The value of a women’s college education is in some ways most clear in Congress. While only 2% of college-going women nationwide graduate from historically women’s institutions, more than 20% of women in Congress are women’s college alumnae.
The trend of women leaders graduating from schools like Barnard holds true for the Biden administration, which so far has sought out seven Barnard alumnae to play pivotal roles at the center of Washington, D.C., politics for the next four years.
Read more about our exciting alumnae below.
Nancy Gertner ’67
After a 50-year legal career, former U.S. federal judge Nancy Gertner ’67 joined the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States to analyze debates for and against Supreme Court reform. The panel of experts on constitutional law, history, and political science will appraise the merits and legality of different proposals for reform, including the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court, the membership and size of the Court, and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.
Currently a professor of practice at Harvard Law School, Gertner spent her career as a vocal advocate for women’s rights, which she detailed in her book In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate.
Elizabeth Moore Aubin ’87
Elizabeth Moore Aubin ’87 was nominated by President Joe Biden to be ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria. As a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Aubin currently serves as the Department of State’s acting principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Aubin has worn several hats over the course of three decades, including Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, Algeria. She majored in political science at Barnard.
Ramona E. Romero ’85
Ramona E. Romero ’85 was appointed to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Alongside other expert commissioners, Romero will select a group of candidates for the White House Fellows program. This prestigious program, whose final entrants are chosen by the President, provides young Americans with experience working at the highest levels of government.
Romero currently serves as vice president and general counsel of Princeton University, where she advises the trustees, the president, and other senior administrative and academic officers on the legal implications of university policy and decision-making. Previously, she spent nearly four years as general counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Romero is also a member of the Barnard Board of Trustees.
Jennifer Sokoler ’06
On January 11, 2021, the Biden administration announced Jennifer Sokoler ’06 among a group of new hires to the White House Counsel’s Office, as associate counsel, after serving as counsel to the foreign and national security policy team assisting the Biden-Harris transition. Sokoler comes to the White House from a counsel role at O’Melveny and Myers and a previous clerkship for the U.S. Supreme Court’s Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sokoler graduated from Barnard in 2006 with a degree in political science and government and received a J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2010.
Aditi Somani ’18
Aditi Somani ’18, who currently serves as special assistant for Oval Office Operations at the White House, is a first-generation Indian-American who was raised by two immigrant parents in Queens, New York. Following her time at Barnard, where she majored in economics and completed the Athena Women & Leadership Scholars Program, Somani moved to San Francisco and worked as an investment banker in J.P. Morgan’s technology coverage group. Almost two years later, moved by the life-altering events of 2020, she left J.P. Morgan and joined Joe Biden’s presidential campaign as a senior associate for paid media. A few weeks after President Biden’s record-breaking victory, Aditi was appointed to her job at the White House, where her team supports the president in carrying out his day-to-day responsibilities.
“Two of the most important things Barnard gave to me were the confidence to be bold and unafraid to take risks and dream big, and a fiercely loving tribe of women that lifts each other up every single day,” said Somani. “From the friends who encouraged me to take a leap of faith and join the campaign, to the mentor who vouched for me when I was interviewing for a role in the administration, Barnard has been with me for every step of this journey — and I couldn’t be more proud of it.”
Polly Trottenberg ’86
Polly Trottenberg ’86 was confirmed as the new deputy secretary of transportation on April 14, 2021. She joins the White House after more than 25 years in the public sector, most recently as New York City’s transportation commissioner for seven years. She led NYCDOT through the COVID-19 pandemic, overseeing the COVID-19 response and recovery, prioritizing transforming city streets to promote livability, sustainable transportation, and economic recovery.
Trottenberg traces her career back to Barnard, where she majored in history. “I got my love of cities, transportation, and politics starting with my college days back in the 1980s, when NYC and so many other cities were facing such epic challenges,” Trottenberg said. “My time at Barnard was very formative.”
Haeyoung Yoon ’90
Haeyoung Yoon ’90 joins the White House as a member of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, a group of experts entrusted with ensuring that the governmental response to the pandemic is equitable. Yoon brings to the task force decades of expertise from a career dedicated to low-wage and immigrant workers rights issues.
Yoon is currently the senior policy director at the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), an advocacy organization for domestic workers in the United States. Before coming to NDWA, Yoon was a Distinguished Taconic Fellow at Community Change, a community organizing group that “builds the power of low-income people.” Yoon worked with a network of immigrant rights organizations and diverse stakeholders to advance the mission of Community Change. She also held a director role at the National Employment Law Project.