By Seyi Gesinde
President Barack Obama last month nominated Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, who served in top roles at the Treasury Department, to succeed Caroline Atkinson as his deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.
Ms. Atkinson has served in her current post since June 2013, a position that includes coordinating U.S. participation in the annual summits of the Group of 20 and Group of Seven countries. Ms. Atkinson also played key roles in the recently concluded climate negotiations in Paris and in pushing the White House’s trade agenda, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Speaking on why he selected Adeyemo for the position in a White House statement, Obama said: “I am grateful that Caroline’s work will be carried on by Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, who has served in my administration since 2009. At the Treasury Department, he was part of the team that helped coordinate our response to the global recession, laying the foundation for renewed growth at home and abroad.
“He helped establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and he’s been our point person on a range of international economic issues, including negotiations on strong currency agreements around the Trans Pacific Partnership.”
Obama said: “I will be calling on Wally’s intellect, judgment and dedication as we sustain America’s global economic leadership, which reinforces our national security, and as we work with allies and partners around the world to create jobs and opportunity for all our people.”
Mr. Adeyemo, 34, joined the White House’s National Economic Council as deputy director this fall from the Treasury, where he served most recently as the deputy chief of staff to Secretary Jacob Lew. He was the Treasury’s lead negotiator on the currency agreement that was part of the Pacific trade deal.
Mr. Adeyemo also worked on Treasury’s response to crises in Ukraine and Greece and in 2010 was one of the first officials charged with standing up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Obama thanked Ms. Atkinson for her service and said he was grateful that Mr. Adeyemo would carry on her work. The Wall Street Journal said Mr. Adeyemo had been nominated by Mr. Obama to serve as assistant Treasury secretary for international markets and development, but a White House official said Mr. Adeyemo had asked the president to withdraw the nomination given his new role.
Mr. Lew said that Mr. Adeyemo had “developed a network of international relationships in economic offices around the world to promote U.S. interests effectively.” Former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Mr. Adeyemo, who joined the administration in 2009, was a “natural diplomat with a great feel for policy.”
The position has served as a springboard to even higher profile international finance posts. Michael Froman, who is currently the U.S. trade representative, held the post under both Mr. Obama and President Bill Clinton. Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard, who previously served as a senior Treasury official in the Obama administration, held the post in the Clinton administration.