AmeriCorps Agency Announces Additional Biden Appointments to Key Positions
Directors of AmeriCorps, External Affairs, and Government Relations Named
WASHINGTON, D.C. –AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteering and service, announced the appointments of three leading experts to key positions – Sonali Nijhawan, director of AmeriCorps State and National; Dan Kohl, director of government relations; and Sri Preston Kulkarni, chief of external affairs.
Joining the seven leaders announced last month, these appointees reflect the Biden administration’s commitment to diverse leadership. In their roles, these leaders will use service to support the administration’s agenda, focusing on four of the most urgent challenges of our time: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change.
The appointments come as the agency is poised for extraordinary progress, with calls for investment in national service programming at every level, amid growing recognition that service is an effective strategy to help address challenges ranging from climate change to COVID-19 recovery.
“In the face of COVID-19, our mission has never felt more important,” said AmeriCorps Chief of Staff Jenny Mauk. “In thousands of communities, AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers are tackling the tough challenges presented by the pandemic. With their unique experiences, the new additions to our team will enable the agency to grow and sustain this service response over the long haul, while applying service solutions to some of the nation’s most critical issues.”
Below is background on the appointees announced today:
Sonali Nijhawan, Director of AmeriCorps State and National
Nijhawan has committed her career to developing leaders and growing national service. Most recently, she developed and served as the executive director of Stockton Service Corps, a six-year, $12 million initiative to address local needs through AmeriCorps. Her professional background also includes extensive experience in education, beginning as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Chicago. Inspired by the students, families, and AmeriCorps community she met, she then went on to help found City Year Sacramento and launch the organization's 22nd site with 50 new AmeriCorps members. Nijhawan also served as the California director of Education Pioneers where she recruited, placed, and supported managers in urban school systems and education nonprofits, empowering people to challenge the status quo of our public education system. she earned a bachelor’s in education and psychology from Marquette University and a master’s in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Dan Kohl, Director of Government Relations
Kohl’s’s long record of political and civic engagement will be an asset to AmeriCorps. Kohl is a founder for a leading progressive political advocacy organization, J Street, where he served as vice president of political affairs. He previously served as the SEED Foundation’s Wisconsin director for new school development and as a senior advisor for Baker Hostetler’s government practice group, representing children’s hospitals and the Office of the Commissioner for Major League Baseball, including their Welcome Back Veterans Initiative. His previous political experience includes positions with the 2020 Democratic National Convention Milwaukee Host Committee, the Biden-Harris Wisconsin leadership team, and the National Finance Committees for three presidential candidates. In 2018, Kohl ran for a congressional seat representing Wisconsin’s 6th district. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards including organizations across the American Jewish community. Kohl is a Brown University graduate and earned a master’s in history and a law degree from the University of Wisconsin.
Sri Preston Kulkarni, Chief of External Affairs
Kulkarni brings a variety of experience in service and public affairs to AmeriCorps, including 14 years as a foreign service officer with the State Department where he specialized in public diplomacy and worked in public affairs and international information programs, completing tours in Taiwan, Russia, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, and Washington, D.C. He also spent time as a Pearson fellow with the U.S. Senate, advising on foreign policy, defense, and veterans affairs matters. Kulkarni furthered this experience as a candidate for Congress in 2018 and 2020, running the first U.S. campaign in 27 languages and the largest relational organizing program for a U.S. Congressional race. He earned a bachelor’s in linguistics from the University of Texas and a master's in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School. He speaks English, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Hebrew, and Mandarin Chinese.