Kal Penn speaking at a rally for Barack Obama at the University of Maryland's Nyumburu Cultural Center.
Penn was an advocate for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2007 and 2008 and a member of Obama's National Arts Policy Committee. He appears in the Barack Obama-supporting video "Sí Se Puede Cambiar" by Andres Useche and appeared with comedian George Lopez on January 18, 2009, at "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial".
In early 2009, Penn was offered the position of Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Obama administration, which he accepted. This necessitated his character Lawrence Kutner being written out of the TV series House. In his new role with the Obama administration, Modi served as a liaison with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities. He had gone back to using his birth name, Kalpen Modi.
Having made a commitment before his employment at the White House, Penn amicably left his post as Barack Obama's associate director of public engagement on June 1, 2010 to return to his acting career. He returned to office on November 15, 2010, following completion of A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas.
In 2008, Penn served as a visiting lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His course was entitled, "Images of Asian Americans in the Media."
Penn is currently working on a graduate certificate in international security from Stanford University.