Delaware State University president to lead Biden inauguration planning

Delaware State University President Tony Allen

Delaware State University President Tony Allen. (Delaware State University).

There will likely be no massive gathering on the National Mall in Washington to see President-elect Joe Biden sworn into office alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

The traditional parade through D.C. that usually follows the swearing-in ceremony is also unlikely to happen.

With COVID-19 numbers still rising in many states and Biden’s call for Americans to stay socially distant, January’s inauguration event could be the most unique in modern history.

The task of figuring out how to pull off that ceremony and celebration now falls to Delaware State University President Tony Allen. On Monday, Biden named Allen CEO of the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

“This year’s inauguration will look different amid the pandemic, but we will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe,” Allen said.

Before Allen moved from provost to DSU president in 2020, he worked as a top executive at Bank of America. Well before that, Allen spent four years as a special assistant and speechwriter for then U.S. Sen. Biden in the late 1990s. He’s also previously headed a panel to improve Wilmington’s K-12 schools and was founding president of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League.

With less than eight weeks before Biden and Harris are sworn in, the Presidential Inaugural Committee will work with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to coordinate the inauguration. The Biden transition team says the group will prioritize “keeping people safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19 while engaging all Americans.”

Helping Allen will be Maju Varghese as executive director. Varghese was COO for the Biden-Harris campaign overseeing day-to-day operations, which shifted to remote work due to the pandemic.

The campaign’s national political director Erin Wilson will also be on the PIC team. Wilson, like Allen, has a local connection to the Philadelphia region. She was a senior aide in Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s office, most recently serving as his state director and senior advisor to his 2018 reelection campaign.

Rounding out the PIC team is Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who was one of Biden’s earliest elected supporters. Cancela also served as a senior advisor to the campaign in Nevada during the primary election.

Biden and Harris will be sworn in on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

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