Biden names women in key cabinet roles in intelligence and security

Biden names women in key cabinet roles including head of national intelligence


President-elect Joe Biden has continued to hold to his promise that his administration “look like America”, announcing his pick of cabinet members in several key roles across treasury and national security.

Biden’s nominations include, Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, the first immigrant in that position as well as Avril D. Haines as director of national intelligence, and the first woman to hold that role. Veteran diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield will also become US ambassador to the United Nations.

And, according to top aides, Biden is also expected to select Janet L. Yellen as treasury secretary.

Speaking as he introduced his cabinet picks to the nation, Biden said these team members as well as the rest of his announced cabinet would rebuild trust in the US State Department and would pursue the belief “that America is strongest when it works with its allies”.

“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it,” he told reporters yesterday

“We can’t solve all the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation, we need their partnership.”

Avril D. Haines

Avril D. Haines worked with Biden under President Barack Obama and has held a key security role in his transition.

She previously served as the White House deputy national security adviser and deputy director of the CIA and was the first woman to hold both positions. If her nomination is successful in Biden’s administration, she will become the first woman to head US national intelligence.

Former CIA director John Brennan said that Haines held “the complete trust and confidence of Joe Biden, who will look to [Haines] to restore integrity and honesty at the helm of the intelligence community.”

Previously, Haines was a senior research scholar at Columbia University and a senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University. 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

Linda Thomas-Greenfield grew up in America’s segregated southern state of Louisiana and, as a result, knows adversity.

Having lived as a career-diplomat, she will now represent US’ interests as Ambassador to the United Nations.

“My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” she wrote on Twitter following this week’s announcement that she will be nominated to the role, pending Senate approval.

“I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in Foreign Service — and, if confirmed, will do the same as Ambassador to the United Nations.”

A 35-year veteran of the foreign service, Thomas-Greenfield oversaw the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration, served as director general of the foreign service as well as ambassador to Liberia. 

Janet Yellen

When Janet Yellen was appointed as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers in 1997, the former University of California academic became the first woman to hold the position. In 2014, she was sworn in as chair of the Federal Reserve by then President Barack Obama.

If she is confirmed by the Senate as Treasury Secretary, she’d make another first; the first woman to lead the Treasury Department. Under her term in the Federal Reserve between 2014 to 2018, the nation’s unemployment rate fell went from 6.7 per cent when she began, down to 4.1 per cent when she finished her tenure.

Yellen was the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and a top economic adviser to President Bill Clinton. In 2016, she was featured in Powerful People and Forbes’ Powerful Women, where she took out the number 2 spot. When Yellen received her doctorates from Yale University in 1971, she was the only woman among two dozen economists.

As Forbes contributor Kim Elsesser notes in her latest Op Ed, if Biden’s nomination is confirmed, Yellen’s “presence will hopefully inspire more women to enter the field, and she will bring a much-needed female perspective to the table.”

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