New Staff Memebers Join PIR

September 23, 1997
Press Contact: Claire Gonzales
Allison King
(202) 395-1010


Judith Winston, Executive Director of the President's Initiative on Race, today announced the appointment of five senior members to the Initiative's staff. The new members are: Lin Liu, Deputy Director for Policy Planning and Research; Michael Wenger, Deputy Director for Outreach and Program Development; and Claire Gonzales, Deputy Director for Communications. Also joining the Initiative are Audrey Hutchinson, Chief of Staff, and Robert Wexler, General Counsel. Mrs. Winston also announced that Laura Harris, Executive Vice President of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), will serve as a senior consultant to the Advisory Board and the Initiative staff.

The second meeting of the Initiative's seven-member Advisory Board is scheduled for Tuesday, September 30, 1997. The White House has announced that President Clinton will attend part of the meeting. The meeting will be held at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., in Washington, D.C., and will run from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The agenda will include presentations of demographic data on the U.S. population and social science research on race and prejudice. Dr. John Hope Franklin, Chairman of the Advisory Board, and Mrs. Winston will also report on recent activities of the Initiative and discuss upcoming plans. The meeting is open to the public. Free tickets will be made available to the public at the Mayflower Hotel, starting at 7:30 a.m., on a first-come, first-served basis.

Commenting on the additions to her staff, Mrs. Winston said, "I am delighted by the caliber of experience and expertise that these individuals bring to this endeavor. I was fortunate to receive an overwhelming amount of interest from exceptionally well-qualified candidates, which made the selection process difficult. I am confident, however, that we have assembled a strong team that is capable of accomplishing the President's goals for this Initiative."

Ms. Liu has more than eight years of experience in immigration and immigrant policy, having worked at the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Office of Management and Budget and the Rand Corporation, a research institution focusing on public policy issues. She most recently was the Assistant Commissioner for Policy at the INS, where she led the task force on welfare reform issues.

Prior to joining the Initiative, Mr. Wenger was the Washington representative for the Appalachian Regional Commission, acting as the liaison for the 13 governors representing the Appalachian region, tracking legislative issues and helping to develop policies to promote economic development in the Appalachian states. Before serving with the commission, Mr. Wenger held several positions in the state of West Virginia, including Commissioner for the Department of Employment Security, Deputy Commissioner of Operations for the Department of Welfare and Chief of the Division of Community Development in the Office of the Governor.

Ms. Gonzales joins the Initiative from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she served as the Director of the Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs since April 1994. Prior to joining the administration, Ms. Gonzales was Senior Civil Rights Policy Analyst for the National Council of La Raza for four years. She also has experience in the private sector, where she practiced law with the firm of Baker & Botts in Houston, Texas, from 1986 to 1989.

Both Ms. Hutchinson and Mr. Wexler held senior positions at the U.S. Department of Education prior to joining the Initiative. Ms. Hutchinson was most recently the Special Assistant to the Acting Under Secretary, overseeing the day-to-day management of the Department. A native of Jamaica, she previously held several positions with the City University of New York, including Assistant to the University Dean for Academic Affairs in charge of Adult Education and Literacy and Deputy to the President at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and The City College. Mr. Wexler was Special Counsel and Executive Assistant to the General Counsel at the Education Department. Prior to that, he worked for 12 years as an attorney in the Department's Division of Business and Administrative Law.

Ms. Harris, who is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, has been with AIO, a New Mexico-based organization devoted to issues relating to tribal leadership and governance, for the past five years. One of her chief responsibilities at AIO is managing the American Indian Ambassadors Program, a national leadership training program. She also has extensive experience on Capitol Hill, having worked as an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) for six years, and she has handled public relations and special events planning for the Smithsonian Institution.

The President's Initiative on Race may be contacted by writing to: the New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street, NW, Room 3236, Washington, D.C. 20503, or calling: (202) 395-1010.

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