Jennifer Van der Heide (’92) Assumes Interior Department Leadership Post

UC Hastings Law congratulates Jennifer Van der Heide, Class of 1992, on her recent appointment as chief of staff for President Joe Biden’s Department of the Interior.

Jennifer Van der Heide ’92

Van der Heide focused on public interest law when she earned her J.D. from UC Hastings and is one of many faculty and alumni who have undertaken careers in government service.

In her leadership role at the Department of the Interior, Van der Heide will “advance the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda to build back better and address the four intersecting challenges of our time: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change.”

“We look forward to working with the dedicated civil servants at the Department to fulfill Interior’s missions, advance President Biden’s vision to honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes and uphold the trust and treaty responsibilities to them, address climate and nature crises, and build a clean energy future that creates good-paying jobs and powers our nation,” she said in the announcement of her appointment. “We are ready to get to work on behalf of the American people.”

Van der Heide brings to the job more than 25 years of federal, state, and local experience in the legislative, legal, and electoral sectors. She served most recently as chief of staff for Congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico (incoming Secretary of the Interior) and, previously, as chief of staff and political director for Congressman Mike Honda of California. Earlier experience includes serving as the Washington director and on-reservation tribal attorney for the Hoopa Valley Tribe and tribal attorney for California Indian Legal Services. She also worked as a litigator in private practice in California. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Tufts University.