White House
Michael Leach, the White House's first chief diversity and inclusion officer is set to leave the administration later this month. This is a representational image. Unsplash

NEW YORK CITY - The first White House chief diversity and inclusion officer, Michael Leach is leaving the administration, the White House confirmed on Thursday. Leach was part of President Biden's team since the 2020 presidential campaign, where he led diversity and inclusion efforts.

Leach, who is also a special assistant to the president, is set to leave the White House later this month, a White House official said. The move had been in the works for some time.

Leach said the role "has been the honor of a lifetime" and expressed "great optimism" about the administration's future diversity and inclusion efforts. Leach told The Associated Press that he would take time to reflect on how to best increase equity across institutions before his next role.

While the White House has not immediately replaced Leach, it has launched a job search for the position.

"President Biden promised to build an administration that looks like America and delivers for the American people," said Jen O'Malley Dillon, the White House deputy chief of staff. "From the campaign to now, Michael Leach was an instrumental partner to us in fulfilling this promise."

Leach has been a part of Biden's team since the now-president embarked on his campaign journey to take over the country's highest office. Both in office and during the campaign, Leach, a Black man, spearheaded efforts to create the most diverse general election and White House staff in history. He was frequently involved in conversations advancing inclusive perspectives in administration policy.

His efforts have come into fruition. In June, the Biden administration filed a report showing it employed the most diverse White House staff in U.S. history. As per the report, about half of the White House staff identifies as a person of color, and nearly 60% of staffers are women.

Biden has also filed an executive order promoting diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce broadly.

"President Biden committed to building a federal government that looks like America, and he has kept that promise with the help of leaders like Michael Leach," said Stephen Benjamin, director of the White House of Public Engagement. "Michael has set the bar high as an exemplary public servant, and he will be missed."

Leach's departure coincides with the current battle against Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs by Republican lawmakers, who believe efforts of this nature are harmful to the country.

In Florida, for instance, 12 public universities voted to ban using state or federal dollars for diversity programs or activities, aligning with a law signed last spring by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Democrats, on the other hand, see such policies as ensuring the perspectives of different communities in society are reflected in public life.

While no specific reason was cited as the catalyst for his departure, as he prepares to leave the White House, Leach said he hopes the Biden Administration reaches "a new level of intentionality to continue building on the progress we've made."

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