At a Glance
- Career History:
Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations,
(May 2009 to 2011); Chief executive officer, National Association of Conservation Districts (2004-2009); Senior vice president, Gordley Associates (1993-2004); Professional staff member for the
House Agriculture Committee
, and Chief of staff and press secretary to former Rep. Charles Hatcher (D-Ga.) (1981-1992)
- Hometown: Camilla, Ga.
- Alma Mater: University of Georgia, B.A. in journalism (1981)
- DC Office: 1400 Independence Ave., SW, (202) 720-7095
- Web site
Path To Power
Harden was born in Camilla, Ga., and was raised on a peanut farm. She attended the University of Georgia, earning a B.A. in journalism in 1981. After graduating, Harden moved to Washington, D.C., where, for the next 12 years, she held various positions on Capitol Hill. Harden worked for the House Agriculture Committee and also served as chief of staff and press secretary for former Georgia Democratic Rep. Charles Hatcher.
In 1993, Harden left government to work at the private consulting firm Gordley Associates in Washington, D.C.
Harden's experience growing up on a farm, as well as her many years interacting with lawmakers and advocacy groups on behalf of agricultural interests, helped shape her focus on achieving USDA goals through broad support and cooperation.
Just before 2009 nomination, Harden wrote in the spring 2009 newsletter of the National Association of Conservation Districts, "No matter how hard the issues or difficult the tasks, the answers lie in the wisdom and leadership of conservation district leaders." She strongly believes that policies and programs can't succeed if parties at every level aren't on the same page. Her colleague, Steve Robinson, president of the National Association Conservation Districts, has said that Harden "has always sought input from the ground level."
Harden reports to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. She also collaborated with the director of intergovernmental affairs for the Agriculture Department, Jennifer Yezak.
Harden has contributed a total of $1,000 to political causes since 2002. She gave $250 to the Democratic National Committee in 2002 and $750 to Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2008.