GM hires new head of global public policy amid transition to EVs

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. has hired Omar Vargas as vice president and head of global public policy starting Aug. 1, the automaker announced Monday.

Vargas, who was most recently senior vice president and chief government affairs officer for 3M Co., will be responsible for leading policy efforts as GM accelerates its aspiration to field an emissions-free lineup of electric vehicles by 2035. To help get there, the automaker will need buy in from policymakers that includes EV infrastructure growth and consumer buying incentives. 

General Motors Co. appointed Omar Vargas vice president for global public policy, effective Aug. 1, 2021. The automaker says he will advocate for policy solutions in support of GM’s commitment to an all-electric future.

“Omar Vargas brings over 20 years of experience leading public policy teams and working collaboratively to find policy solutions to complex issues,” Craig Glidden, GM general counsel and executive vice president for global public policy, said in a statement. “His broad experience managing issues across multiple industries and working with governments, both within the U.S. and globally, make him the right person to advocate for policy solutions in support of GM’s vision, including our commitment for an all-electric future.”

The hiring of Vargas comes as GM and its rivals are stepping up efforts to shape federal policy surrounding electrification, charging infrastructure and tax incentives to speed EV adoption. A top priority: changing public perceptions of the legacy auto industry's ability to successfully navigate the transition to an electrified future.

Following the departure of Vargas' predecessor, Everett Eisenstatt, GM in May named Glidden named executive vice president of public policy reporting to CEO Mary Barra. Glidden oversaw the selection of the new senior executive for policy. Vargas will report to Glidden. 

Vargas worked in multiple government affairs positions at 3M from 2017 to 2021. He also worked in government affairs at Praxair (now Linde) and PepsiCo.

From 2001 to 2006, Vargas worked in the U.S. Department of Justice, appointed by President George W. Bush. There, his positions included working on civil rights, national security and immigration.

Vargas is a New Jersey native with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Seton Hall University, a Master of Arts in international law, organizations and economic development from the School of International Service at American University and a Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law at American University.

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