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Northwestern experts weigh in on Biden’s executive actions and cabinet appointees

Professors from history, law, science and global affairs are available to comment

Evanston, Ill. --- The Biden-Harris administration plans to enact several executive actions following the Jan. 20 inauguration, including establishing paths to citizenship for immigrants and rejoining the Paris Accord.

Congressional hearings also are underway to review President-elect Joe Biden’s picks to fill several key cabinet positions, some setting historic precedent such as the first woman as Secretary of the Treasury, among others.

Northwestern University experts are available to comment on the Presidential transition, Biden’s first 100 days in office and more.   

Find additional Politics 2021 experts on Northwestern’s For Journalists site.

Cabinet appointee experts:

Annelise Riles is executive director of Northwestern University’s Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs and an expert on the views of financial regulators and central bankers. Media interested in interviewing Professor Riles should contact Mohamed Abdelfattah at

Quote from Professor Riles 
“Throughout her career, Janet Yellen has taken a remarkably broad view of who is the constituency of regulators — at a time when the mainstream view among both academics and policy officials was that the relevant actors were banks and Wall Street, Yellen emphasized the needs and perspective of ordinary citizens, workers and consumers as well.  

“The challenge now will be to bring that wider constituency into a relationship of trust, to find ways to consult and engage the public at large, just as regulators routinely consult and engage the financial industry. This will require diversifying the regulatory staff, bringing a broader range of disciplines and methodologies such as anthropology, law, psychology and history into regulatory work, and creating platforms and forums for seriously engaging the interested public in a two-way conversation.” 

Doug Kiel is an expert on Native American history and politics. He is an assistant professor in the department of history and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities as well as faculty affiliate in the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. He can be reached at 847-467-4821 or by email at

Quote from Professor Kiel
“As Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland will be the first Native person to actually have control of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Most people are not aware that the maintenance of America’s imperial possessions/overseas territories is governed through the Office of Insular Affairs, also under the Interior umbrella. Secretary Haaland’s work will shape federal policy in distant Samoa and Guam, for instance.”

Executive action experts

Jacqueline Stevens is a professor of political science and legal studies and director of the Deportation Research Clinic in Northwestern’s Buffett Institute for Global Affairs. Her areas of research interest include citizenship, deportation and the rule of law. She can be reached at office 847-467-2093 and

"President-elect Joe Biden has committed to immediately reversing 400 Trump administration executive actions adversely affecting immigrants. He also has provided the broad outline of an ambitious bill to provide a path to citizenship for long-term U.S. residents. Even if his legislative plans lack sufficient support in Congress and some of the harmful Trump-era regulations will take a while to unsnarl, the right personnel choices for new leadership at ICE and the immigration courts could make a tremendous difference and bring relief to millions fairly quickly. Orders, or the lack thereof, by Biden and political appointees on the use of discretion and ICE's private prison contracts will tell us fairly quickly if Biden is serious about shutting down the deportation machine."

An expert on energy and sustainability, Jennifer Dunn is a research associate professor of chemical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering, director of research at the Northwestern Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering and associate director of Northwestern’s Center for Engineering Sustainability and Resilience. She can be reached directly at

Quote from Professor Dunn
“Rejoining the Paris Accord reconnects the United States with this essential, collaborative effort to limit global warming. On the international stage, the United States can better guide the globe towards the technologies and strategies that work best, leading by example, and engaging in technology development and transfer with global partners. Climate change is not a go-it-alone challenge; the United States’ re-engagement will be a boost to our country and to the international community.”

Daniel Horton is an assistant professor in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He investigates Earth’s climate system, how climate change affects extreme weather and the climate benefits of the widespread adoption of electric vehicles. He can be reached at

Quote from Professor Horton
“Re-committing to the Paris Accord is a hopeful place from which to start the Biden administration. The recent lack of leadership from the U.S. on the global stage has been problematic for a number of reasons. The United States has emitted more greenhouse gases over time than any other nation. Its thus imperative that the United States leads by example and offers assistance to developing nations impacted by U.S. historical largesse. In addition, missing out on the economic opportunities provided by decarbonization of the global economy and infrastructure would be a mistake of historic proportions. The world is marching forward on this front and we must join them to remain economically relevant. The good news is that while federal leadership on climate action has been lacking for the past four years, climate action in the United States has not been stagnant. Forward-thinking initiatives have been researched, pursued and implemented by many states, cities, non-profits and the private sector. The Biden administration has the opportunity to learn from and build upon these local and regional successes, as they return the United States to the global stage.”