The Hill's 25 Women to Watch: Page 18 of 26

The Hill's 25 Women to Watch





Neera Tanden shapes political policy through a lens of life experience. 

As president of the Center for American Progress, the 42-year-old Tanden is putting her stamp on the progressive think tank as it churns out solutions on a diverse range of issues.

“We can influence the debate and we want to make positive changes through policy,” she said. 

Tanden has shown a willingness to fight tough battles — she was instrumental in ushering the healthcare law through Congress — and remains positive about Washington’s ability to pass better policy.

“My experience on healthcare is that members of Congress were trying to do the right thing,” she said, adding that she’s “less jaded” after that experience.

Tanden rose through the ranks over a 20-year career of domestic policy work in the Clinton and Obama administrations and on the campaign trail. 

She believes that policy should be crafted so “economic growth can be more broadly shared,” a stance influenced by a difficult time in her youth when her family hit a rough patch and needed government help to get back on their feet.

“Everybody wants access to the American Dream — they want a shot,” she said.

She is also starting a new initiative on women’s leadership roles in the workplace and calls herself “very fortunate” to have “really fantastic mentors” — among them her mother and Hillary Rodham Clinton, for whom she worked at the White House, in the Senate and during her 2008 presidential bid. 

“I’ve been incredibly lucky to work in Washington in important jobs working for women who didn’t just talk the talk but walked the walk,” she said.

— Vicki Needham