Obama appoints Gabby Giffords to Fulbright Scholarship Board

President Obama announced late Thursday that he would appoint Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic congresswoman who was shot two years ago, to serve on the board that awards the prestigious Fulbright Scholarships.

Obama has tapped Giffords to the 12-member J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, which oversees the State Department’s Fulbright scholarship program. The board members – a bipartisan group of individuals with diverse careers – also select the students, scholars, teachers and others who participate in the Fulbright exchange program.

Giffords, 42, served four years in Congress and was seriously injured in January 2011 when a gunman opened fire on her and her constituents during a meet-and-greet event in her Tucson district. Now a prominent spokeswoman for stricter gun laws, Giffords testified before Congress supporting Obama’s gun-control agenda. Last month, she appeared with Obama in the Rose Garden of the White House as the president admonished the Senate for failing to pass a compromise bill that would have expanded background check requirements to more gun purchases.

Giffords will serve on the Fulbright board along with several other political figures, including Betty Castor, a former Democratic Senate candidate in Florida; Lisa M. Caputo, a senior aide in the Clinton White House; and Anita McBride, a senior White House official in the Reagan and both Bush administrations.

Obama also announced Thursday night he was nominating Jon M. Holladay, the deputy chief financial officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to become the department’s chief financial officer. Obama also said he would appoint Natalie Wyeth Earnest, a senior public affairs official at the Treasury Department, to become the agency’s assistant secretary for public affairs, and Gregory L. Parham, who has been the acting assistant secretary for administration at the USDA, to fill that job permanently.

“I am honored that these talented individuals have decided to join this Administration and serve our country,” Obama said in a statement. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Philip Rucker is a national political correspondent for The Washington Post, where he has reported since 2005.
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