Joe Biden Gets First Big Staff Shakeup As DHS Chief of Staff Abruptly Resigns Position

President Joe Biden gets his first big staff shakeup as Karen Olick, chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, abruptly resigned today Politico reported.

Mayorkas announced the move saying Jennifer Higgins, the current associate director of Refugee, Asylum and International Operations at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, will serve as temporary chief of staff.

In an email to staff, Mayorkas said Olick “decided to resign her position and pursue new opportunities. We are grateful to Karen for her service during the critical first nine months of the new Administration.”

Olick sent out her own farewell saying:

“Though too often underappreciated by our fellow citizens, I am continually struck by how many millions of Americans sleep in safety every night because so many at DHS do not sleep.”

From DHS: Higgins has served in the federal government for more than 20 years and began her career in federal service in 1999 as a Presidential Management Fellow with the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s Office of International Affairs.

Upon completion of her fellowship in 2001, she joined the Refugee Affairs Division as an immigration officer. From 2007-2014, Higgins served in key leadership positions within RAIO, first as the branch chief for Asylum Operations and then as the deputy chief for the Refugee Affairs Division.

Higgins served as the chief of staff for the Deputy Secretary from 2016-2017, advising DHS leadership on refugee, immigration and national security issues while managing daily operations for the Office of the Deputy Secretary.

Higgins has been honored with several awards in recognition of her contributions throughout her career including: the DHS Secretary’s Outstanding Service Medal in 2019; the DHS Secretary’s Unity of Effort Award in 2019; the DHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service medal in 2017; the 2016 Director’s Exceptional Service award, USCIS’ highest award; the USCIS 2010 Manager of the Year Award; the 2006 USCIS Compass Award; and the 2002 INS Commissioner’s Challenge Award.

In addition to her work in RAIO, Higgins has led several special initiatives for USCIS, including launching a career development and growth working group as part of USCIS’ employee engagement effort and serving as the senior advisor to the USCIS Director.