Where Will Patrick Gaspard Take the Center for American Progress? – The New Republic

Posted: November 23, 2021 at 4:34 pm

Gaspard was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1967. His parents had fled dictatorship in Haiti and heeded the call of Patrice Lumumba for francophone academics of African descent to settle in newly independent African states, according to a biographical page on the Haitian Embassys website. But the family moved to New York when he was three. After growing up on the Upper West Side and in Queens, Gaspard stayed in New York and attended Columbia.

Gaspard worked his way through city politicsa stint on David Dinkinss 1989 mayoral campaign; chief of staff of the New York City Counciland entered the citys activist circles, moving in the same political trenches that Bill de Blasio did. They cut their teeth during the Crown Heights Riots, where they were both young City Hall staffers, said Bill Hyers, who ran de Blasios mayoral campaign. (The New York Times listed Gaspard as one of three people in de Blasios inner ring as an outside adviser in 2013alongside the mayors wife.) He gained prominence through organized labor, spending nine years at the powerful SEIU 1199.

Gaspards first major foray into national politics found him on the leftier side, working for Howard Deans 2004 campaign. He was someone that really understood organization, Dean said. Four years later, Gaspard stayed at SEIU for the primaries, but backed Obama and joined his team for the general election. Afterward, Gaspard became an assistant to the president and ran the White House Office of Political Affairs. His portfolio was pure politics. That meant early preparations for Obamas reelection, a sort of domestic diplomat within the Democratic Party. When the president goes on a trip to, say, eastern Ohio, the political director needs to make sure he meets with local party officials with sway.

After Gaspard spent a stint as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, Obama nominated him as ambassador to South Africa. This wasnt one of those cushy posts rewarding political allies in countries where there isnt a lot at stake. Gaspard had to deal with South African President Jacob Zuma during a period of institutional patronage, corruption scandals, Nelson Mandelas death, and military and civil unrest in Zimbabwe.

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Where Will Patrick Gaspard Take the Center for American Progress? - The New Republic

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