Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Brink of Change

It is difficult to spend much timing musing over the year 2008. At this time of year many of us look back on the year that has passed and try to make sense of it. Our mistakes, hopefully, will teach us what not to do or guide us toward trying things that worked for others. We reminisce over the fun and exciting events of the year with plans and goals freshly laid for the coming year. The last quarter of 2008 was fraught with daily upheaval and financial losses that caused many people to despair. I needn’t list everything that went wrong (it is a long, long list). I have had enough doom and gloom and 2008 can be summed up as a financial mess. So let’s step back to look only at those things that stand out as hopeful against this grim backdrop.

Most prominent was the election of a new President and the excitement, swelling around the globe, of his upcoming inauguration on January 20th. Obama has wasted no time organizing his transition and making appointments to his cabinet. All of Obama’s picks appear to have substantial experience and come from diverse backgrounds, they are:

  • Senator Hillary Clinton as secretary of state - Clinton seems to be uniquely qualified to be secretary of state bringing her years as a senator and first lady in her husband's administration as important experience.
  • Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury – has been the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York since 2003
  • Larry Summers as Director of the National Economic council – served as The World Bank’s chief economist and treasury secretary under Bill Clinton.
  • David Axelrod as Chief Advisor – served as Obama’s chief strategist during his campaign.
  • Eric Holder as Attorney General – served as Bill Clinton’s deputy attorney general and as Obama’s legal advisor during his campaign
  • Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader – served in the house from Las Vegas and then moved to the senate in 1987.
  • Tom Daschle as Secretary of Health and Human Services – was a congressman from South Dakota and minority leader in the senate until he lost his seat in 2004.
  • Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce – has served as governor of New Mexico and as energy secretary.
  • Robert Gibbs as Press Secretary – lead Obama’s communications team during his campaign.
  • Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board – served as chairman of the Federal Reserve under Jimmy Carter.
  • Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense – is currently serving as secretary of defense under George Bush.
  • Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff – is an Illinois congressman and was an aide to Bill Clinton.
  • James L Jones as National Security Advisor – was a four-star general who served in the Marine Corps for four decades.
  • Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House and is the congresswoman from San Francisco.
  • Henry Waxman as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee – is a representative in the house for Los Angeles and chairman of the committee on oversight of government reform.
  • Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security – served as Arizona’s attorney general and became governor of that state in 2002.
  • Susan Rice as US Ambassador to the United Nations – was a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate in philosophy, and held several positions during the Clinton administration including assistant secretary of state under Madeline Albright.
  • Arne Dunkan as Secretary of Education – is the head of education in Chicago, the third largest education system in the US.
  • Steve Chu as Head of the US Energy Department – is the Nobel-prize winning physicist from the University of California Berkeley.

Generally, Americans are looking forward to the change in government with anticipation. The nonprofit sector has suffered recent setbacks along with the rest of America but a reason for optimism shines as a beacon of hope for all of us. What do you think of Obama’s picks? How do you think these choices will affect your nonprofit?