Several of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet picks will make history as the first woman, person of color or member of the LGBTQ community to serve in their positions if confirmed by the Senate. Inauguration Day on January 20, 2021 already saw one historic first as Kamala Harris became the first woman, first Black American and first South Asian to serve as vice president.
Biden appears to be working to fulfill his campaign promise “to appoint leaders of government agencies that reflect the country they aim to serve.”
Biden’s Cabinet includes Vice President Harris, the heads of fifteen executive departments and nine Cabinet-level officials. The proposed cabinet would be the most diverse in U.S. history, with more women and people of color than any cabinet prior, says The New York Times.
Of the appointees confirmed by the Senate thus far:
- Janet Yellen is the first woman Secretary of Treasury;
- Lloyd Austin is the first Black Secretary of Defense;
- Avril Haines is the first woman Director of National Intelligence.
If confirmed as a department head:
- Xavier Becerra would be the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services;
- Pete Buttigieg would be the first out LGBTQ+ cabinet secretary;
- Deb Haaland would be the first Native American cabinet secretary;
- Alejandro Mayorkas would be the first Latino and immigrant Secretary of Homeland Security.
And if confirmed as a Cabinet-level official:
- Michael Regan would be the first Black man to lead the Environmental Protection Agency;
- Cecilia Rouse would be the first woman of color to serve as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors;
- Katherine Tai would be the first woman of color to serve as U.S. Trade Representative;
- Neera Tanden would be the first woman of color and South Asian American to serve as Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Although Biden’s Cabinet will be more diverse than that of his predecessors, it is not without criticism. “Progressive liberals have criticised Mr Biden’s selections as too safe, too moderate, too establishment and too old,” says the BBC.
Nonetheless, this history-making Cabinet has not gone unnoticed. Representation in politics matters and as our government leaders begin more closely resembling the people they serve, they will better serve them.
Jenna Nabors (she/her) is a fourth-year student majoring in communication with minors in international studies, journalism and English and a Park Scholar. Share your thoughts about this article on Twitter at @NCStateOIED.