At a Glance
- Career History: Deputy Secretary of State (January 2009-November 2010); COO of Citi Alternative Investments (June 2006 to present); Executive vice president of New York University (2001 to 2006); Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1998 to 2001)
- Birthday: August 29, 1955
- Hometown: New York City, New York
- Alma Mater: Harvard University, B.A., 1978; Georgetown University, J.D., 1983
- Spouse: Not Available
- Religion: Jewish
- Party: Democrat
Path to Power
Lew was born in New York City in 1955 and grew up in Queens. His father was a lawyer and rare-book dealer who emigrated from Poland. Lew's first political experience was volunteering for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 anti-war presidential Democratic primary campaign, at the age of 12. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1978 after cutting his teeth on the Hill as an aide to the famous Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.).
Veteran Hill Aide
After graduating from college he worked as a senior domestic policy adviser to then-House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr.(D), also of Massachusetts, until 1987. While working for O'Neill, Lew got his law degree from Georgetown University in 1983.
Lew is not known as an ideological warrior, but (former) Republicans such as ex-Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) have described him as a tough, even unpleasant negotiator. Although Lew came up through what might be called the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, working for such unreconstructed liberal icons as Abzug and O'Neill, he fit comfortably into the more centrist Clinton administration.
The Hamilton Project was founded by Rubin and is viewed as a bastion of the fiscally moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
Lew is the embodiment of an old Washington hand. He began working on Capitol Hill at the age of 18. He apprenticed himself to congressional legends such as Abzug and O'Neill, and has more experience on the Hill than most executive branch appointees. Having worked in both the House and the Clinton administration, Lew is well-known to Democrats all over Washington. In particular he is close to John D. Podesta, who runs the Center for American Progress think tank and is co-chair of the Obama transition team. Podesta also came to the Clinton administration from Capitol Hill.
Lew's time at Citigroup has overlapped with that of Robert Rubin, former Treasury secretary under Clinton, who is director and senior counselor at Citigroup. In the Clinton administration's OMB Lew initially worked under Leon Panetta, who was Clinton's first OMB director and was recently nominated by Obama to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency.