FILIPINO American millennial Jason Tengco has been tapped to be the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s White House liaison, the Biden-Harris administration announced on Monday, January 25.
The OPM serves as the chief human resources agency and personnel policy manager for the federal government.
Tengco previously served as the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) outreach lead on the Biden-Harris transition team, and was the chief of staff for the campaign’s coalition department, which worked with minority groups and different sectors across the country to get out of the vote.
The appointees reflect “the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to diversity, with more than 85% of OPM First Week appointees identifying as people of color, women, or LGBTQ,” the announcement said.
Kathleen McGettigan, OPM’s chief management officer, will serve as acting director of OPM until a permanent director is nominated and confirmed.
“Biden wants to continue to build off of that significant progress and make sure that we have diverse, talented individuals in his administration,” Tengco told the Asian Journal in a 2020 interview, citing the Obama-Biden administration’s record appointments of AAPIs, particularly Fil-Ams, to key government positions.
Tengco — who was the executive director and then a senior advisor for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) — briefly left politics to pursue a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of California, Berkeley.
He graduated last spring and had another job lined up, but the nationwide protests for racial justice and seeing former President Donald Trump’s photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. compelled him to work to get Biden elected, he previously told the Asian Journal.
“I already knew that we couldn’t afford another four years under [Trump], but that was the day that I told myself that I wanted to jump back in and get involved in the campaign myself,” Tengco said in the interview.
His past experiences include serving as national AAPI outreach director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, and deputy director of the White House Initiative on AAPIs during the Obama administration.
Tengco’s interest in political activism sparked while studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in political science.
“I’ll always remember this quote that I learned in college: No history, No self. Know history, know self,” he said.