Eisenhower High School alumnus, Adewale (Wally) Adeyemo, was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to be the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Adewale graduated from Eisenhower High School in 1999. He earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and his law degree from Yale Law School. He currently serves as the President of the Obama Foundation, a non-profit founded by Barack and Michelle Obama, and served several positions within Obama’s presidential administration.
Joe Biden announced his nomination of Adewale (Wally) Adeyemo on November 30. He will go through the confirmation process next year.
The nomination is another step in a decorated, barrier-breaking career for the distinguished Rialto Unified School District product. Adewale was fittingly selected as “Most Likely to Succeed” by his classmates at Eisenhower High School. In high school, he was a member of the Mock Trial team, guided by legendary Eisenhower High School teacher, Charles W. Grande, who recently passed away.
While his career path has taken him far from Rialto, his experience growing up in the Inland Empire still resonates with him today, something he referenced during his remarks after being announced as the nominee.
“In California’s Inland Empire, where I grew up in a working-class neighborhood, the Great Recession hit us hard,” Adewale said. “We were one of the foreclosure capitals in the United States. The pain of this was real for me. It wasn’t just numbers on a report or stories on the nightly news but neighbors and friends who lost everything.”
Adewale was born in Nigeria but his family moved to the United States when he was still a baby and eventually settled in Rialto. His mother worked as a nurse while his father served as a teacher and principal. His parents’ dedication to serving others left a strong impression on Adewale and his two younger siblings.
“They taught us that we have a responsibility to serve our community and the country that gave us so many opportunities,” Adewale said.
Another inspiration for his career path is Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa. He spoke of that influence when he was selected as the Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs in 2015.
“This desire to instill the value of service in me led my father to wake me early on the morning of February 11, 1990, to watch as Nelson Mandela was released from prison,” Adewale said. “Although the images on my television were of a reality thousands of miles from our home in California, I could feel the hope Mandela inspired not only in South Africans but also in my father. Watching Nelson Mandela go from prisoner to president and start the process of bringing together a country was more than inspirational, it motivated me to imagine how I could use public service to improve the world around me. And it continues to remind me that events far from home can make a meaningful difference in the lives of Americans.”
Those lessons shape how he will approach the job at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
“The challenges before us today are unlike anything we’ve ever faced,” Adewale said. “But I know what the President-elect so often reminds us of is true: The American people can do anything when given a chance.”
Adewale Adeyemo entered into politics early in life. At UC Berkeley, he was the president of the students’ association. He worked on the presidential campaigns for John Kerry and Barack Obama. He joined the Obama administration in 2009 and served multiple roles: Deputy National Security Advisor and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council; the Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development at the Treasury Department; Deputy Chief of Staff of the Treasury Department in 2012; and Chief of Staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Upon his appointment for Deputy National Security Advisor, former Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, stated that Adewale was a “natural diplomat with a great feel for policy.”
Adewale is the first African American to be nominated as the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. If confirmed, he will work under Janet Yellen, who was nominated to be the Secretary of the Treasury.
“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Joe Biden said in a statement. “This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy.”