Alumna Becomes First Female Deputy Secretary of State

Senate confirms Heather Higginbottom, M.A. ’99, as deputy secretary of state for management and resources.

heather higginbottom
December 18, 2013

By Julyssa Lopez

George Washington University alumna Heather Higginbottom, M.A. ’99, has been named the U.S. deputy secretary of state for management and resources, a job that President Barack Obama nominated her for in September. She is the first woman to hold the position.

The Senate confirmed Ms. Higginbottom with a 74-17 vote on Dec. 13.

“I look forward to working with the remarkable men and women at the State Department and USAID to advance America’s global leadership. Together, we can make our foreign policy and development programs more agile and innovative, so that we can better protect our national security and promote economic prosperity,” Ms. Higginbottom said.

Ms. Higginbottom began working for Secretary of State John Kerry in 1999, while he was serving as U.S. senator from Massachusetts. Ms. Higginbottom handled domestic policy as his legislative assistant and, later, legislative director. She also worked as Secretary Kerry’s deputy national policy director during his presidential campaign. She later founded and worked at the American Security Project, a national security think tank.

In 2007, Ms. Higginbottom served as policy director for President Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign. She supervised all aspects of his policy development. Following the 2008 presidential election, Ms. Higginbottom worked as deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She advised President Obama on education, immigration and economic development issues, and also helped design the Race to the Top and Promise Neighborhood programs. She has been called one of President Obama’s “big thinkers” on health care, according to the Washington Post.

Secretary Kerry hired Ms. Higginbottom as counselor in 2013. In that role, she advised the secretary on issues related to policy, personnel and management.