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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2619

Krishanti Vignarajah -Former Michelle Obama policy director mulling Maryland gubernatorial bid

Annapolis, (Maryland),26 July, (

Krishanti Vignarajah who served as a policy director for First Lady Michelle Obama in the last administration, is gearing up to run for Maryland governor.

The potential run of Vignarajah, a Sri Lankan American, was first reported by the political blog A Miner Detail, which covers Maryland politics, Sunday. On Monday, she told the Washington Post that she was “seriously considering” entering the race.

“A number of folks have encouraged me to run, and I’m seriously considering it,” a text message that Vignarajah, 37, sent to a Washington Post reporter read.

Talking to The American Bazaar at an event hosted by the Maryland Democratic Party’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) wing in Bethesda, MD, Monday evening, the Catonsville, MD, resident would not confirm or deny her gubernatorial run.

However, fellow South Asian Americans welcomed the potential run by Vignarajah, daughter of Sri Lankan Tamil parents.

“Krish has excellent credentials,” said Rajan Natarajan, who served as the Deputy Secretary of State under the Martin O’Malley administration. “I think she has amazing experience, amazing credentials. She is going to have a great message—she told me that. We need that kind of transformational leaders running for office.”

Natarajan said he knows Vignarajah’s parents — who are both teachers — and her brother, former Maryland Deputy Attorney General Thiru Vignarajah.

“I am very excited that Krishanti Vignarajah is contemplating running for governor,” said Devang Shah, the Asian American and Pacific Islander Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. “As a very well-qualified AAPI woman, her entry into the race will energize our community to engage in the political process as she embarks on a historical campaign of firsts, the first minority Governor and the first woman Governor of Maryland.”

If she enters the race, Vignarajah — who has degrees from Yale University and Oxford — will be facing a number of party colleagues in the June 2018 primary.

As of now, five Democrats have already signaled their intention run: former NAACP president Ben Jealous; Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III; state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr.; tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; and attorney Jim Shea.

Four others — Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Rep. John Delaney, former Attorney General Doug Gansler and Maya Rockeymoore, a policy expert and wife of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings — are also considering entering the race, according to various reports.

The winner of the primary will almost certainly face the state’s popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Addressing a recent gathering of the United Democratic Women of Maryland’s quarterly luncheon at Nick’s Airport Inn in Hagerstown, MD, Vignarajah reportedly said that she was considering running for the governor. An official announcement regarding her will be made by September.

Vignarajah, who has a master’s in political science from Yale University, a master’s in international relations from Oxford University, London, and a law degree from Yale Law School, is an accomplished policy person.

Most recently she served as the Director of Policy and International Affairs to First Lady Michelle Obama. During her tenure at the White House, Vignarajah has worked on several high profile initiatives, such as “Let Girls Learn,” which provided education to 60 million girls around the world. She worked with large private sector companies to help partner and fund this initiative worldwide.

Prior to working at the White House, she worked at the State Department, where she led initiatives with global impacts, and represented the State Department at the UN General Assembly.

She has worked on several initiatives and programs to encourage entrepreneurship, resolve women’s issues, engage with youth and religious communities.

Besides working for the government, Vignarajah has extensive background in private sector as well. She has worked at McKinsey and Company helping with tsunami relief efforts in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, as well as advising non-profit organizations on emerging markets.

Vignarajah also runs Generation Impact, which works with foundations and corporations, non-profits, social enterprises and individuals, on strategy development and implementation, strategic communications, and public-private partnership design and execution.

Vignarajah’s parents immigrated to the United States from Sri Lanka, during the island nation’s civil war. Both her parents were Baltimore City public school teachers.

- Courtesy: American Bazaar

- Asian Tribune -

Krishanti Vignarajah
Krishanti with her mother
diconary view
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