Senate Confirms Gwen Graham to Assistant Secretary Post at Education Department Without Opposition

Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., to serve as assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Education without opposition.

Back in April, President Joe Biden nominated Graham.

“Gwen Graham, who honed her commitment to public service as a leader in Florida’s local public schools, is a respected former member of Congress with a reputation for fairness, compassion, and problem-solving,” the White House back in April. “Graham served as the congressional representative from Florida’s Second District during the 114th Congress and was known as one of the House’s most bipartisan members. She is an attorney and, prior to her service in Congress, focused her practice on public education as Chief of Labor and Employee Relations for the Leon County School District. She was involved in every aspect of the educational process and was recognized for her integrity and fairness. The Florida Education Association and the Leon Classroom Teachers Association were the first organizations to endorse her Congressional candidacy. She also served as a board member of the statewide Florida Educational Negotiators. Graham is a proud product of public K-12 education as are her children, and she served as PTA President and School Advisory Council Chair while they were young. She has worked on a number of presidential campaigns, and in 2004 served as John Kerry’s surrogate coordinator in Florida. She currently serves as a board director of the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, the Florida State Parks Foundation, Ruth’s List, and as Vice-Chair of the City of Tallahassee Independent Ethics Boards.”

The daughter of former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., Gwen Graham served a single term in Congress after upsetting U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., in 2014. She retired in 2016 and began running for governor, narrowly losing in the primary to then Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Graham was an early backer of Biden’s presidential bid. There had been buzz about Graham running for governor again in 2022.

U.S. Education Sec. Miguel Cardona welcomed Graham to his team back in April.

“I am grateful that President Biden has nominated Gwen Graham to serve as assistant secretary for legislation and congressional affairs at the U.S. Department of Education. Graham brings decades of invaluable experience as a public education leader, federal legislator, and public servant to this role. As a graduate of public schools and the parent of public school graduates, she is keenly aware of the importance of a strong public education system that serves all students well. Graham’s prior service to her local communities and to our country will be instrumental in shaping and implementing the department’s legislative goals and strategies. I am thankful for her willingness to serve our nation’s students at the department and look forward to her swift confirmation,” Cardona said.

“I’m so humbled to be nominated by President Biden to help serve America’s students, educators, and families. If confirmed, I’ll throw myself into this position, and fulfilling the president’s commitment to education, with all of my heart and soul,” Graham noted.

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., replaced Graham in Congress and he had kind words for her when she was nominated.

“I’ve known Gwen for a number of years and know she and her family have long been passionate about education. President Biden’s nomination is well-considered and I know she will do a great job putting the education of the nation’s children first,” Dunn said

Cardona weighed in again on Graham after she cleared the Senate last week.

“No one is better equipped for the role of Assistant Secretary for Legislation and Congressional Affairs than Gwen Graham, herself a former member of Congress and a civic and public education leader with a remarkable record of service and impact,” Cardona said.

Graham noted she was “honored to be confirmed” and thanked Biden and Cardona for their support.

“The value and importance of public education have been a cornerstone of my life. So proud to work on behalf of our nation’s students, families and educators,” Graham added.

Kevin Derby
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