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Keisha Lance Bottoms to join White House as senior Biden adviser

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
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Former Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is joining the Biden administration, taking over for Cedric L. Richmond as the director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, according to a White House official with knowledge of the move, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to confirm it.

Bottoms told Axios, which first reported the news, that she planned to do “more listening than anything” in her new role, in which she will be responsible for coordinating “two-way dialogue” about challenges and policies between the White House and communities around the country.

“It’s important that people feel their voices are reflected and their voices are heard,” Bottoms told the outlet.

Bottoms is seen as a rising star in Democratic politics and had been on the shortlist of candidates considered for President Biden’s running mate in 2020. It came as a surprise to many when she announced last year that she would not be seeking reelection as Atlanta mayor and said, at the time, that she was “not yet certain of what the future holds.”

Both Bottoms and Richmond were among Biden’s earliest supporters in his presidential campaign and later high-profile campaign surrogates.

Richmond, one of Biden’s closest political allies, left his role in the spring to become a senior adviser at the Democratic National Committee, to help Democrats fundraise and to act as a liaison between the DNC and the White House leading up to the midterm elections. Richmond agreed to take on that role at Biden’s request.

Richmond joined the White House as director of its Office of Public Engagement after Biden was inaugurated and quickly became a high-profile surrogate for the administration — appearing frequently on political shows to defend the president’s policies — as well as a trusted intermediary between the White House and Congress.

Before joining the White House, Richmond represented Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District for a decade and was chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus from 2017 to 2019.