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Gordon, McQuade among Michigan leaders picked to help with Biden transition

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

President-elect Joe Biden has tapped several Michigan leaders to help with the transition to his new administration, including Robert Gordon, who leads the state's health department. 

The list of transition volunteers includes several alumni of the Obama administration including Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services; the former U.S. Attorney for Detroit, Barb McQuade; Hudson-Webber Foundation CEO Melanca Clark; Michael Barr, a dean at the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and Kerry C. Duggan, a sustainability consultant in Detroit. 

Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Michigan, in March 2017.

Gordon and the others will be part of the agency review teams responsible for “evaluating the operations of the federal agencies so that the incoming Biden-Harris administration is prepared to lead our country on Day One,” according to a news release.

President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election to Biden, so officials in his executive branch are not cooperating with Biden's transition at this time.

But Biden's agency review teams are meant to ultimately work directly with staff at federal agencies to carry out the vital work of the transition between administrations.

“We must be prepared for a seamless transfer of knowledge to the incoming administration to protect our interests at home and abroad. The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One,” said former Delaware U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the transition.

“The work of the agency review teams is critical for protecting national security, addressing the ongoing public health crisis, and demonstrating that America remains the beacon of democracy for the world.”

Robert Gordon

Gordon is designated as one of two "team leads" for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He previously served as acting deputy director at the White House Office of Management and Budget under former President Barack Obama and also worked in policy development at the U.S. Department of Education. 

Gordon has had a sometimes controversial tenure at MDHHS, the agency responsible for public health in Michigan and which has led the charge on fighting the coronavirus. He has drawn criticism from Republican lawmakers for his executive orders related to the virus, as well as his agency's temporary ban on flavored vaping products that was overturned in the courts. 

"Yes, please take him!" GOP state Senate President Pro Tempore Aric Nesbitt tweeted Tuesday in response to Gordon's transition appointment. 

McQuade and Clark are part of the transition team at the Department of Justice, where Clark previously served as chief of staff of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services and worked on boosting support for federal legal aid.

Clark also served as senior policy adviser with the White House Domestic Policy Council under Obama. 

McQuade was appointed by Obama as the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Michigan, serving from 2010-17. She teaches at the University of Michigan Law School.

Dean of Public Policy Michael Barr smiles during a conversation on foreign policy at Rackham Auditorium.

Barr of UM will be part of the team reviewing the U.S. Department of the Treasury, where in 2009-10 he served as assistant secretary for financial institutions and was a key architect of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

Also on the Treasury transition team is Betsey Stevenson, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. 

Stevenson, a former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor, was a member of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers from 2013 to 2015, where she advised the administration on social policy, labor market and trade issues. 

Michigan State University economics professor Lisa D. Cook will be part of the agency review team examining the Federal Reserve, banking and securities regulators. 

Cook also served on the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama White House from 2011-12.

Kerry Duggan, whose focus includes clean energy, is part of the agency review team for the federal Department of Energy. In the Obama administration, Duggan was a policy director for Biden and worked as deputy director of the Detroit Federal Working Group, according to her LinkedIn profile. 

Dave Noble

Dave Noble, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, was named as part of the team responsible for reviewing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 

Noble spent eight years with the Obama administration, including time as the White House liaison and deputy chief of staff at NASA.

Noble also served as the deputy director and acting director of the Presidential Personnel Office, which vets political appointees. He worked on Obama's 2008 campaign as the director of the LGBT Vote. 

mburke@detroitnews.com