Zaki Barzinji is a public affairs advisor with a decade of experience in political campaigns, public service, and tech innovation at the state and federal level. Most recently, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as Senior Associate Director for Public Engagement and the White House liaison to Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, Sikh-Americans and other minority faiths where he worked to amplify voices and narratives seldom represented at the highest levels of government.
Prior to joining the Obama White House, Zaki served as Governor Terry McAuliffe's Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, where he represented Virginia to the federal government, Congress, foreign governments, and other states. In that role, he also served as the Governor's primary representative to the National Governors Association on cybersecurity, telecommunications, immigration, and transportation policy. Before representing Governor McAuliffe in DC, Zaki served as his advisor in Richmond on technology policy, where he launched Virginia's first open data portal, managed state agency hackathons, and helped steer pro-innovation state legislation.
Previously, Zaki worked on a variety of state, local, and policy campaigns, and served as the Executive Director of the Southern Business Council, a trade organization representing minority-owned technology and healthcare small-businesses based in Virginia. In this role, he helped shape public policy advocacy for member CEOs on a variety of issues including immigration reform and affordable healthcare. In recognition of his service to the Commonwealth and on behalf of small businesses, Governor McAuliffe appointed Zaki to the Virginia Small Business Commission in 2017.
Zaki is a graduate of Virginia Tech, and is an avid writer, science-fiction enthusiast, and Jedi apprentice. He met his wife Michelle in Cairo on the night President Obama was first elected, and met his daughter Zoon in 2017.