President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team for the Department of Veterans Affairs includes several agency alumni who will spend the next few months setting policy priorities for the incoming administration.
The announcement of the team comes as President Donald Trump continues to dispute the results of the election, which the Associated Press on Saturday projected Biden had won. As he files legal challenges to the results in multiple states, officials from his administration have declined to offer any transition assistance to the Biden campaign.
That includes at VA. On Monday, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he would not begin any transition work until being instructed to do so from the White House.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he does not think a delay in the handover of department information and resources will hurt veterans.
But Biden has downplayed concerns that Trump’s opposition would create problems for his incoming staff.
“Agency review teams are an integral part of the transition process, responsible for evaluating the operations of federal agencies,” Biden’s staff said in a statement Tuesday. “Our teams are composed of diverse experts with deep policy expertise, ready to ensure we’re prepared to lead on day one.”
The team overseeing VA transition issues will be led by Meg Kabat, former National Director of VA’s Caregiver Support Program. She is a clinical social worker with more than 20 years experience currently working as a senior director at Atlas Research, a consulting firm.
Other team members include:
• Dr. Baligh Yehia, who served as the first deputy under secretary for health for Community Care at VA during Barack Obama’s presidency;
• Phillip Carter, former military and veterans expert for the Center for a New American Security and national veterans director for the Obama campaign;
• Kayla Williams, former director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans under both Obama and Trump;
• Carrie Kagawa, chief of staff at the Truman National Security Project;
• Heidi Marston, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority;
In an interview with Military Times, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie defended the department's response to coronavirus thus far as better than many had predicted.
• Mirah Horowitz, founder of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Washington and a special assistant on the 2007 Presidential Commission on the Care of America’s Returning Wounded Warriors;
• Steven Parker, former senior military advisor at the National Defense University’s Africa Center.
The full list of team members is available on the Biden transition website.