Date: Friday, July 9, 2021
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced key appointments to the agency leadership team who will work to create jobs in the clean energy economy, steward America’s public lands and waters, and honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes.
“The Interior Department is playing a key role in advancing President Biden’s agenda by honoring our trust and treaty obligations to Tribes, tackling the climate crisis by advancing a clean energy future, protecting and conserving our nation’s public lands and waters for future generations, and creating good-paying American jobs. I am thrilled to welcome these talented leaders to the Department, who bring with them invaluable skills, backgrounds, and experiences that will help carry out Interior’s mission for the American public,” said Chief of Staff Lawrence Roberts.
Interior’s political team proudly reflects the diversity of America, with more than 50% identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or people of color) and 75% as women.
The appointees are listed below in alphabetical order:
Danielle Decker, Deputy Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs
Born and raised in Wisconsin, Danielle Decker is a public engagement professional who recently served as the Coalitions Director on the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). Prior to joining PIC, she served on the Biden for President national political team and as the Director of Intergovernmental and Party Affairs at the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC). Before joining the DNCC, Danielle served as Legislative Liaison at the City of Milwaukee. Danielle previously served in the Obama-Biden administration at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and on the staff of former U.S. Senator Russ Feingold.
Amber Gaither, Deputy White House Liaison
Amber Gaither most recently worked for the Georgia Democratic Party during the Georgia Senate runoff elections as a Deputy Operations Director. Before joining the Georgia Democratic Party, Amber served as the Biden for President North Carolina Operations Associate. Prior to that role, Amber worked at the Center for American Progress as the Senior Operations Coordinator for Generation Progress, working with young people to advance progressive solutions on a variety of issues. Amber graduated from Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and a minor in Public Health.
John Grandy, Advisor in the Office of Communications
John Grandy most recently held a variety of roles on the Biden for President campaign, including Michigan Deputy Communications Director during the general election and South Carolina Press Secretary during the Democratic presidential primary. Prior to joining the campaign, John served as Deputy Press Secretary for Hawai‘i Senator Brian Schatz. John is a native of Washington, DC and a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College.
Betsy Hildebrandt, Senior Advisor for Insular Areas
Betsy Hildebrandt returns to the Interior Department after serving in a variety of roles between 2009 and 2020 as both a political appointee and a career employee in the Office of the Secretary, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Her contributions have primarily focused on management and strategic communications. In her more than 30-year career, Betsy has worked on Capitol Hill and the private and non-profit sectors. Betsy and her husband, Kevin Varney, have two children.
Kathryn Isom-Clause, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Kathryn Isom-Clause (Taos Pueblo) was most recently the Vice Chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission. Kathryn previously served as a senior counselor to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, chairing interagency working groups on sacred sites and homelessness and advising on gaming matters and Tribal homelands restoration. Before joining the federal government, Kathryn provided legal advice and representation to Tribal clients on a wide range of federal Indian law and policy issues important to Indian Country. Kathryn holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Amanda Kules, Deputy Director of Scheduling and Advance
Amanda Kules is an advance and events professional who most recently was an Advance Associate at the Office of the Vice President. Previously, she served as the Director of Accessibility for the Presidential Inauguration Committee and National Advance Lead for the Biden-Harris campaign. Amanda previously held positions at Warren for President, POLITICO, and Hillary for America. Amanda graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Amanda has lived in Washington, D.C. since 2015.
Joe Younkle, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science
Joe Younkle is a descendant of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and most recently served as Congressional Relations Associate at the National Indian Health Board where he led their Congressional advocacy on Medicare and Medicaid. Prior to joining the National Indian Health Board, Joe worked at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee where he served as Deputy Finance Director for the Midwest and South. Joe holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.