John David Podesta (born January 8, 1949) was the fourth and final White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton from 1998 until 2001. He is currently President of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C, and is also a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Podesta was co-chairman of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.
Podesta spent most of his early years in Chicago growing up in the neighborhood of Jefferson Park on the city's Northwest Side. His father was Italian-American and his mother Greek-American. In 1967, he graduated from Lane Technical High School located in Chicago. In 1971, Podesta graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He attended and graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1976. Podesta worked as a trial attorney in the Department of Justice's Honors Program in the Land and Natural Resources Division (1976–1977), and as a Special Assistant to the Director of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency, (1978–1979).
On June 6, 1998, during his Knox College commencement address, Mr. Podesta spoke of his family's early life: "Let me close with a couple of thoughts. Permit me what my kids would refer to as an ethnic moment. One month ago I stood on the White House lawn, and I watched as President Clinton, the man I'm proud to work for, greeted the Italian Prime Minister, Romano Prodi. It caused me to think about my grandparents, who came to America from Italy at the turn of the century and struggled their whole lives, never attending school, living in a walkup tenement in downtown Chicago. My grandfather working as a stevedore. And I thought about my father who had to quit high school after one year to support his family, who worked in factories his whole life, but who kept pushing my brother and myself to get a good education. I realized that I couldn't have been on that lawn without the support—quite literally the scholarship and financial support, but as importantly, the educational and emotional support that Knox College gave me."