Trinity Professor Worked for Biden Transition Team

Juan Sepulveda held two roles in the Biden/Harris transition team

Photo courtesy of Juan Sepulveda

Photo courtesy of Juan Sepulveda

The game “Six degrees of Kevin Bacon” is based on the assumption that everyone in Hollywood has no more than six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. Well, no offense to Kevin Bacon, but Trinity University can boast a connection to someone much more impressive: President Biden.

Dr. Juan Sepulveda is a Ron Galgaard Distinguished Visiting Professor at Trinity. He was also a member of the Biden/Harris transition team, which worked to establish the Biden/Harris administration.

Dr. Sepulveda has had a long-standing relationship with the Democratic party.

“Before I came to Trinity, I had been in D.C. for nine years working for the Obama administration. I won Texas for former President Obama in 2008 and held a White House office focused on education and the Hispanic community under the Obama administration in 2009. I was also the Senior Advisor for Hispanic Affairs with the Democratic National Committee,” said Sepulveda.

Most Recently, the Biden/Harris administration asked Dr. Sepulveda to be a part of their transition team. He had two positions on the transition team. His second position was as a personnel liaison.

“My job was to find people to be a part of the government. We were really determined to have people in each agency on day one,” said Sepulveda.

However, the majority of his work was as lead for the Public Media Agency Review Team. A big part of his job was fostering the relationship between the Biden/Harris administration and public television.

“I helped them [the government and public media] understand how to respect each other and work together for the betterment of the community,” said Sepulveda.

When it comes to the betterment of the community, the Biden/Harris administration has very specific goals.

“President Biden was very clear that he say four historic crises taking place at the same time: the pandemic, the economic crisis, George Floyd and the movement around racial justice, and climate change,” said Sepulveda.

Dr. Sepulveda worked with public media to see how they can address some of those concerns.

“Public media can do things like covering Covid-19. People trust national public media,” said Sepulveda.

Unfortunately, despite the success of Dr. Sepulveda’s role, the transition team as a whole had some definite challenges. There has been a lot of misinformation about the elections, including allegations of election fraud, lawsuits, and even riots. The Biden/Harris transition team was impacted by this refusal to concede to the election results.

For one, it actually delayed the transition’s team work. There’s a lesser-known governmental process called ascertainment.

“Ascertainment is when an agent of the federal government certifies the winner of the election,” said Sepulveda, “and because of the allegations of election fraud, ascertainment was delayed.”

Unfortunately, this delay in ascertainment also led to a delay in the transition process.

“We were not allowed to officially start until the ascertainment started,” said Sepulveda.

The struggles the transition team faced did not stop once they were actually able to get started. This environment of Trump supporters saying the elections results weren’t valid didn’t just go away, and that environment led to pushback.

“Some of my colleagues had problems with Trump supporters in the government resisting working with them,” said Sepulveda.

Despite the struggles the transition team faced, Dr. Sepulveda was still able to turn it into a fruitful experience for himself, his country, and the Trinity community.

“I was able to use this [Sepulveda’s work] as an excuse to have students from Trinity come on to volunteer with me and do research. It was nice to take care of the Trinity family,” said Sepulveda.

As for Dr. Sepulveda’s future plans? Well, he has no intentions to leave Trinity for the world of politics, but that doesn’t mean he is done working with the Biden administration.

“I would be open to other kinds of things that wouldn’t require me to leave Trinity if the timing was right. I’m such a big supporter of the Biden/Harris administration that I have no problem continuing to help, but there is nothing official,” said Sepulveda.