Shalanda Delores Young was born on August 29, 1977 in Zachary, Louisiana and grew up in the nearby town of Clinton. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Loyola University New Orleans, and her master’s degree in Health Administration from Tulane University.
Young initially came to Washington, D.C. as a presidential management fellow for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the early 2000s. From 2007-2016, she worked as a staff member for the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations. She became a Democratic deputy staff director for that Committee in February 2017, and then was named its Democratic staff director the following month.
In January 2021, Young was nominated by President Joe Biden to serve as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The largest office within the Executive Office of the President, OMB’s mission is “to assist the President in meeting policy, budget, management, and regulatory objectives and to fulfill the agency’s statutory responsibilities.”
Following the withdrawal of former Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden’s nomination for OMB director in March 2021, Young was selected by Biden to serve as the acting director. On March 23, 2021, Young was confirmed by a Senate vote of 63-37 to become the deputy director of OMB. Following that confirmation, she worked concurrently as both the deputy and acting director.
Young’s nomination to lead OMB received the support of the Congressional Black Caucus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn issued a joint statement commending Young’s appointment: “We have worked closely with her for several years and highly recommend her for her intellect, her deep expertise on the federal budget and her determination to ensure that our budget reflects our values as a nation.”
In spite of the praise she received from some Republican senators during the confirmation process, Young quickly became an ardent advocate for the most radical policies of the Biden Administration. For example, she was an outspoken advocate for taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. In March 2021, Young reaffirmed her support for eliminating the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of most abortions. Dispensing with the Hyde Amendment, she explained, was “a matter of economic and racial justice because it most significantly impacts Medicaid recipients, who are low-income and more likely to be women of color.”
In April 2021, the Young-led OMB issued a statement which advocated for granting statehood to Washington, D.C. “For far too long, the more than 700,000 people of Washington, D.C. have been deprived of full representation in the U.S. Congress,” said the statement. “This taxation without representation and denial of self- governance is an affront to the democratic values on which our Nation was founded.” As noted by the Heritage Foundation, previous Republican and Democratic administrations alike had deemed it unconstitutional for Washington, D.C. to become a state through congressional legislation rather than via a Constitutional amendment. A legislative route to D.C. statehood, said Heritage, would amount to nothing less than “a naked power grab” by a Democratic Party seeking to pack the U.S. Senate with two additional seats guaranteed of being held by Democrats.
Young generated additional controversy at a congressional hearing in June 2021, when she refused to answer a question asking whether or not President Biden’s budget would provide funding to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese laboratory whose “gain-of-function” research was suspected of having been the source of the deadly coronavirus pandemic of 2020 and beyond. “Can you commit that American dollars will never be used to fund such research going forward from this budget?” asked Republican Congressman Jason Smith. Young replied: “Congressman, I started my career at NIH [National Institutes of Health]. I would never make that commitment as someone who believes we need to be led by science, and we certainly need to wait for that review before we jump to conclusions.”
During a Senate Budget Committee hearing in June 2021, Young defended the Biden Administration’s use of the term “birthing people” instead of “women” when discussing an OMB request for $26 million to address racial disparities in maternal mortality rates. “There are certain people who do not have gender identities that apply to female or male, so we think our language needs to be more inclusive in how we deal with complex issues,” Young explained to Rep. Jason Smith. “I think the underlying issues most important that your colleagues are working on,” Young added in her exchange with Rep. Smith, “is to try to ensure that those of color that are giving birth leave the hospital alive, and that’s the issue, rather than the verbiage.” When pressed about the administration’s official policy on the new term, Young elaborated that “our official policy is to make sure that when people get service from their government that they feel included, and we’re trying to use inclusive language.”
On July 20, 2021, Young co-authored a statement entitled “The Path to Achieving Justice40.” The Justice40 initiative, which was established by the Biden Administration after consultation with members of the recently created White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, is a “whole-of-government effort to ensure that Federal agencies work with states and local communities to make good on President Biden’s promise to deliver at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from Federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.” “For far too long,” said the statement, “environmental policy decisions have failed to adequately account for environmental injustice, including the disproportionate, disparate and cumulative impacts pollution and climate change have on low-income communities and communities of color. President Biden has made clear that his Administration will chart a new and better course, one that puts environmental and economic justice at the center of all we do.”
On August 6, 2021, Young issued a press release entitled “Meeting a Milestone of President Biden’s Whole-of-Government Equity Agenda.” This document focused on the federal government’s new commitment to implementing “fairness and equity” – i.e., double standards designed to achieve equal outcomes between different demographic groups — as “principles embedded in the daily practices by which the Government serves its people.” In the press release, Young asserted that “too many people have been historically underserved and experienced marginalization, disenfranchisement, and lost opportunity.” Moreover, she cited a recent OMB report which called for the use of “specific strategies for outreach and engagement” designed to ensure that “the intended impact of a benefit” will be “equitably distributed among beneficiaries,” particularly those from “underserved and marginalized communities.”
In a joint statement released with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen in October 2021, Young claimed that the Biden Administration’s “budget results are further proof that President Biden’s economic plan is working.” “Instead of settling for an economy that serves the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations,” said Young, “the President’s agenda builds on the progress we’ve made and grows our economy from the bottom up and the middle out—creating jobs, cutting taxes for the middle class, lowering costs for working families, and improving our country’s long-run fiscal and economic health.”
On November 24, 2021, President Biden officially nominated Young for the post of OMB Director.