Obama announces key economic personnel changes

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

President Obama announced on Thursday a number of personnel changes, including the replacement of the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative.

The president chose Penny Pritzker to replace Becky Blank as secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, where Blank has led efforts to promote travel, tourism and high-tech manufacturing, and nominated Mike Froman to replace Ron Kirk as his U.S. Trade Representative.

“I could not be more thankful to Ron and to Becky for their outstanding service,” Obama said. “Ron couldn’t be here today, but many members of his team are here, and we are so thankful to them.  Becky, thank you.  Becky is going to be taking on a pretty big job — making sure those badgers behave up in Wisconsin.  And we know she’s going to be extraordinary leading that institution. “

Blank will leave her position at the U.S. Department of Commerce to take a top position at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas, will join Gibson Dunn law firm.

Pritzker, the head of investment firm PSP Capital Partners, is the daughter of one of the Hyatt hotel chain’s co-founders and is listed as one of the top 300 wealthiest Americans by Forbes. She previously served as Obama’s national fundraising chairwoman, according to CBS News.

Froman is also a longtime colleague of President Obama’s, serving as assistant to the president and deputy of national security advisor for international economic affairs. He previously served as managing director of Citigroup and worked with Obama on the Harvard Law Review during law school.

“They operate with integrity, and they understand that public service is a privilege and you’ve got to do it right when you get involved on behalf of the American people,” Obama said, CBS News reports. “One of the reasons I’m proud to nominate them is they don’t forget what matters.”

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