Washington: Neera Tanden, an Indian-American veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, will be taking over as president of the Centre for American Progress, a major Washington-based think-tank next week.

Tanden, 41, a former senior Obama administration official who worked as a close aide of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was the First Lady, US senator and then during her presidential campaign, will be the first Indian American to take up the position.

Currently the Chief Operating Officer of CAP, Tanden will succeed John Podesta, who ran President Barack Obama's transition team and served as White House chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Podesta will remain at the organization as non-executive chairman of the board.

"A graduate of Yale Law School, Neera has proven expertise in areas like health care reform, economic growth, and justice, and crafting foreign policies that reflect our nation's values and strengths," a CAP release said.

'We have to recognize that we as progressives have not provided all the answers the public is looking for on economic growth and the future of the American Dream,' Tanden told Politico, an influential US news site focusing on politics.

"I want us to focus on the bigger and longer-term challenges that the country faces," she said adding her thinking on policy is also informed by difficult aspects of her childhood.

Born outside Boston to Indian immigrants who had met in an arranged marriage, she and her mother sunk into poverty after her father left them when she was 5, she said.

The family survived on welfare and Tanden only managed to remain in the public schools of prosperous Bedford, Massachussets, through a programme that offered faster permits to developers who included low-income housing units in their buildings.

Her mother later found a career and when Tanden was in 6th grade, was able to buy a house.

(Agencies)