As Obama begins his presidency, he has chosen two members of the Bowdoin community to take on leadership roles in his administration. George Mitchell '54 has been named the special envoy for Middle East peace, and although she has not been officially confirmed yet, Karen Gordon Mills has been appointed as the administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Thursday, the Washington Post published a transcript of a meeting between Obama and State Department employees. During the meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced Mitchell in his new position. She said that Mitchell will lead efforts "to reinvigorate the process for achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors."

"He will help us to develop an integrated strategy that defends the security of Israel, works to bring an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will result in two states, living side by side in peace and security, and to achieve further agreements to promote peace and security between Israel and its Arab neighbors," Clinton said.

Mitchell acknowledged the challenges that he will face in his new position.

" I don't underestimate the difficulty of this assignment. The situation in the Middle East is volatile, complex and dangerous," Mitchell said in the meeting. "But the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that danger and difficulty cannot cause the United States to turn away."

Mitchell, a Democrat and Maine native, was a Maine senator from 1983 to 1995. However, he is most well known for leading the Northern Ireland peace process and, more recently, heading the investigation of the use of steroids in baseball, which resulted in the Mitchell Reports.

While Mitchell will promote peace abroad, Mills, a venture capitalist and wife of Bowdoin President Barry Mills, will focus on domestic affairs as she leads the SBA. Obama announced Mills' appointment at a news conference in Chicago on December 19.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Karen, and our sons and I could not be more proud of her or more excited about what lies ahead," President Mills wrote in a campus-wide e-mail shortly after his wife's appointment was made public.

"Karen is a talented leader and a powerful advocate for small business, as she has demonstrated throughout her professional life and through her work here in the State of Maine with Governor Baldacci," he added.

Mills is the president of Brunswick private equity firm MMP Group. She was a founding partner of Solera Capital, a New York-based private equity firm, and she was appointed by Governor Baldacci in 2007 to chair the Council on Competitiveness and the Economy.