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Religious Affairs Expert Thomas L. Bowen Adjusts to New White House Role

In the month since moving from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration to the White House, Thomas L. Bowen keeps encountering familiar faces.

“It’s kind of funny, because there hasn’t been a meeting yet that I have not walked into a room and known somebody from previous interaction, be it through the mayor’s office or years gone by with the Children’s Defense Fund,” said Bowen, who was recently appointed a senior White House adviser charged with keeping faith leaders informed about national policy.

There’s an old adage that our nation’s capital is a small town, but in Bowen’s case, the phenomenon may have as much to do with his previous interactions.

A graduate of Morehouse College who studied at the University of Chicago Divinity School, the Ohio native worked in religious advocacy alongside now-Sen. Raphael Warnock and Chicago pastor Otis Moss III before moving to the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit championed by first lady Hillary Clinton.

In 2002, he joined the staff at Shiloh Baptist Church, a historic Black congregation, where he is minister of social justice. There he became known as a voice for the faith community in the district, and in 2016, Bowser made it official by naming him director of religious affairs.

At both the local and national level, Bowen’s portfolio has gone beyond the realm of faith. He also was the director of African American affairs for the District of Columbia and led its Office on Fathers, Men and Boys.

At the White House, his responsibilities in the Office of Public Engagement also include outreach to “the diaspora of white, ethnic countries in Europe, such as Ireland, Italy, Greece.”

Bowen also is likely to be engaged in shoring up democracy, a major theme of Biden’s presidency and now his reelection campaign.

“He understands the moral and ethical underpinnings of democracy,” said Eddie S. Glaude Jr., religion scholar and professor of African American studies at Princeton University, of Bowen, with whom he attended Morehouse.

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FM Editors
FM Editors
Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.

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