Sheila Nix

An Oak Parker will have a prominent role in the 2024 presidential campaign. On June 21 the Biden-Harris campaign announced that Sheila Nix will be the campaign chief of staff for Vice President Kamala Harris. Nix moved to Oak Park in 2003. Nix is currently the chief of staff to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. She was appointed to that job in 2021. 

“Sheila Nix is a battle tested leader and dedicated public servant and I am grateful that she has decided to join our 2024 campaign,” said Harris in a press release issued by the Biden-Harris campaign. “Sheila is no stranger to campaigns or the Biden-Harris team. Sheila’s strategic sense and ability to navigate challenges made her an invaluable advisor to me on our 2020 general election team. President Biden and I will continue to rely on Sheila’s advice and skill.”

Nix, 61, has extensive ties to the Bidens. She was a senior advisor to Harris during the 2020 Biden-Harris campaign. From 2013 until 2017, during the second term of President Barack Obama, Nix served as the chief of staff to then second lady Jill Biden. She served as Joe Biden’s campaign chief of the staff during the 2012 reelection campaign of the Obama-Biden ticket.

“I am really excited about the new position because it’s so important to get the word out about the impactful changes for families across the U.S. that the Biden/Harris administration has made through its Invest in America agenda,” Nix told Wednesday Journal. “This election is also so important in the fight for our freedoms and to protect our democracy.”

Nix, who grew up in Palatine, moved to Oak Park in 2003 after working in Washington for 14 years. She served as a deputy governor for policy in the administration of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was ultimately impeached and convicted on federal corruption charges.

“Fortunately I was not there at the beginning or end of his administration,” Nix said. 

Nix graduated from Creighton University where she majored in accounting and earned a law degree from the University of Chicago. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1989 to work for the prestigious Arnold & Porter law firm. After two years at Arnold & Porter she became the legislative director and then chief of staff for Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey. When Kerrey left the Senate in 2001, Nix became the chief of staff to Florida Senator Bill Nelson.

While living in Oak Park Nix served for a year in 2008 and 2009 as a senior vice-president for the Strategy Group, a political consulting firm based in Chicago. She also worked for nearly three years as the executive director of the One Campaign, a non-profit co-founded by the singer Bono that focuses on fighting extreme poverty and preventable disease. From 2017 until she became the chief of staff to the Secretary of Education in 2021, Nix served as the president of Tusk Philanthropies, a non-profit focused on promoting mobile voting and developing solutions to the problem of hunger. Tusk Philanthropies was founded and funded by Bradley Tusk, who worked with Nix in the Blagojevich administration. Tusk served as the Deputy Governor of Illinois under Blagojevich and went on to work with then New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. Tusk has also worked in finance and as a venture capitalist. Neither Nix nor Tusk were involved in Blagojevich’s wrongdoings.

Nix and her husband Jim Coughlan, an intellectual property attorney, still own a home in Oak Park that they had been, until recently, renting out.  Nix will start her new job next month and will be based in Washington, D.C. and Wilmington, Delaware. 

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