Watch CBS News

Biden announces Jeff Zients will be new White House chief of staff. So who is he?

Jeff Zients to be White House chief of staff
Biden announces Jeff Zients as next White House chief of staff 00:23

President Biden formally announced Friday that Jeff Zients, the former White House COVID-19 czar, will replace Ron Klain as chief of staff. 

In a lengthy statement, Mr. Biden praised Klain for his tireless work, and said he is "confident that Jeff will continue Ron's example of smart, steady leadership, as we continue to work hard every day for the people we were sent here to serve."

CBS News had already reported that Zients would replace Klain. Klain has been Mr. Biden's chief of staff since day one. 

President Biden Delivers Remarks On Covid-19 with Jeff Zientz
Jeff Zients, White House COVID-19 coordinator, left, wears a protective mask while listening as President Joe Biden on April 21, 2021.  Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The president said the White House will host an official transition event next week to thank Klain and to welcome Zients back to the White House as chief of staff. 

So who is Jeff Zients?

Mr. Biden has described Zients as an "expert manager," which is why the president brought him on to handle the administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He does have more business experience than Klain, something that could benefit the president as he heads into the second half of his term. Zients left his position as COVID-19 coordinator last year.

"He's a great implementer, he's great with operations and he's also an amazing human being, which I think should matter as well," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said before any announcement was made. 

He has extensive private sector experience 

Zients' background is in management consulting and business leadership, and he's spent about two decades in the private sector. Zients worked at the consulting firm Bain & Company, and served as CEO and chairman of the The Advisory Board Company. He also served on the boards of Facebook, Children's National Medical Center and Sirius XM Radio, according to his Obama-era biography. 

Zients also co-founded The Urban Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with companies to provide young people from low-income families with paid internships, mentors and job training. 

A D.C.-specific claim to fame is that Zients is an original investor in and co-owner of the popular local chain, Call Your Mother Deli. Mr. Biden has visited the Georgetown location as president. 

In 2002, when he was 35, Zients landed on Fortune magazine's list of the 40 richest Americans under 40. The magazine at the time estimated his wealth was $149 million. 

He worked for the Obama administration

Zients' first government job was in 2009, when he was made chief performance officer for the Office of Management and Budget for the Obama administration. He went on to serve as the director of the National Economic Council and assistant to Obama for economic policy. 

Zients also dealt with the aftermath of the failures, after the Affordable Care Act website imploded shortly after launching

"When I ran for office, I promised to make government work for the American people," Mr. Biden said in his Friday statement. "That's what Jeff does. A big task ahead is now implementing the laws we've gotten passed efficiently and fairly."

He grew up in D.C.

Zients was born and raised in Washington, D.C., attended the all-boys St. Albans private school in the city. He graduated with his bachelor's degree from Duke University. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.