Need Help Getting a Job in the Obama Administration? Talent Bank May Be the Answer

The Warren Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law is teaming up with a group of liberal philanthropists to help minorities and women win jobs in President-elect Barack Obama’s administration.

The Diversity in Democracy Project, also dubbed the Talent Bank Project, has already collected about 1,000 resumes as of Friday, according to Steve Phillips, a San Francisco employment lawyer and donor to progressive causes.

“The enthusiasm is off the charts,” says Phillips, who also presides over PowerPAC, a nonprofit advocacy and political organization that has also chipped in with Phillips and others to pay for the $100,000 project.

Organizers will accept rèsumès through Nov. 21, from minorities of all types who are often underrepresented in presidential administrations: Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, the disabled and women.

Interested applicants should send rèsumès to warreninstitute@berkeley.edu.

The project will use assessment tools provided by the Korn/Ferry International executive recruiting firm to help match applicants’ resumes with jobs. And then a bi-partisan board, led by Phillips, will winnow down the list and offer a pool of candidates matched up to administration jobs.

The list of final candidates will be presented to the transition team in early December, Phillips said.

Access shouldn’t be a problem for those who make the cut. The project’s point person at The Warren Institute is María Echaveste, a former deputy chief of staff to President Bill Clinton who is married to Christopher Edley Jr., dean of UC-Berkeley’s law school and a member of Obama’s inner circle of advisers to his transition team. Edley was Obama’s law school professor at Harvard.

Neither Echaveste nor the transition team returned phone calls from Diverse. But Phillips identified the board members as: the group’s lone Republican Fred Alvarez, a San Francisco Bay-area employment attorney who served as an assistant secretary of labor in the Reagan and first Bush administrations; Los Angeles lawyer Vilma Martinez; Bill Lann Lee, an assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Clinton administration; and billionaire Virginia businesswoman Sheila Crump Johnson.

“There are various organizations undertaking rèsumè banks in this process,” says Peter Zamora, the Washington, D.C. regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is participating in a Hispanic-focused talent bank effort.

Phillips said he got involved because he hadn’t seen a similar effort in the past that made a push for resumes from a broad array of minorities.

It is common for minority activist groups to mobilize to help members of an individual group to get their rèsumès seen by a new presidential administration. The Asian American Action Fund, for example, is asking its members interested in an Obama administration post to forward their resumes to the organization – as well as to Berkeley’s talent bank. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 26 Latino advocacy groups, launched its own Web site last week to help Hispanic would-be appointees navigate the process.

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda will host a teleconference call today

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