Obama National Service Pick Bows Out
By Dan Eggen
The White House pick to head the federal government's national service agency has withdrawn her nomination for unspecified health reasons, becoming the latest in a series of candidates to bow out of consideration for a senior administration post.
Maria Eitel, president of the Nike Foundation, was named by President Obama on April 21 to head the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, VISTA and other similar service groups. But CNCS officials told employees in an e-mail late last week that Eitel would remain at the Nike Foundation due to a "previously unknown health condition."
"Our thoughts are with Maria as she focuses on her personal health," acting CEO Nicky Goren wrote in the e-mail, which was first reported by the Youth Today website. "Finding leadership for the Corporation continues to be a very high priority for the White House."
Eitel is the latest in a string of Obama choices to withdraw their nominations since January, including former Sen. Tom Daschle for Health and Human Services secretary and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) at Commerce.
Obama announced Eitel's nomination on the same day that he signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act of 2009, which will allow the agency to more than triple the size of AmeriCorps over the next eight years and creates a new volunteer corps to work on conservation, education, health care and veterans issues.
Eitel, 46, was a somewhat controversial choice to head CNPS among public-service advocates, in part because the Nike Foundation is relatively small and because Eitel's background was primarily in public relations. Prior to joining Nike, Eitel worked in communications for Microsoft and other companies and also served as deputy director of media relations for former president George H.W. Bush.
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