Ms. Vignarajah serves as Policy Director for First Lady Michelle Obama and leads the Let Girls Learn initiative the President and First Lady launched this past March.
Before the White House, she served as a Senior Advisor at the State Department under Secretary Kerry and Secretary Clinton. In this capacity, Ms. Vignarajah helped shape White House and State Department initiatives and programs related to the UN and other multilateral institutions, private sector investment and public-private partnerships, U.S. foreign assistance, development strategies concerning health, food security and climate change, public diplomacy, engagement with youth and religious communities, global women’s issues, the legal dimensions of U.S. foreign policy, and regional issues relating to Africa and the Middle East.
Ms. Vignarajah attended Yale College where she earned a Master’s degree in Political Science and a B.S. in Molecular Biology, graduating magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She subsequently obtained an M.Phil. in International Relations at Oxford University (Magdalen College) as a Marshall Scholar, and then worked at McKinsey & Co. before starting law school back at Yale, where she served as Features and Reviews Editor on the Yale Law Journal. The law school awarded Ms. Vignarajah the Potter Stewart Prize and the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize for best brief and best oralist during its Supreme Court competition. Ms. Vignarajah then clerked for former Chief Judge Michael Boudin on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and practiced law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC before joining the State Department.
She has published articles on free trade, judicial scrutiny of political questions, and mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS in, among others, the Journal of World Trade and the Chicago Law Review. For her scholarship, she has received the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Prize, the Benjamin Scharps Prize, and the Joseph Parker Prize. Before joining the White House, Ms. Vignarajah served as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University, teaching international law and U.S. foreign policy.