Now that President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been sworn into office in a historic inauguration ceremony, they’re getting down to business.
That means moving forward with Cabinet nominees — one, Avril Haines, was confirmed by the Senate 84-10 on Wednesday to be Director of National Intelligence. She is the first woman to lead the Intelligence community.
Janet Yellen, who is up to head the Treasury Department, will likely be confirmed this week.
Biden did not have many of his Cabinet members in place when he took office, due to stalling by former President Trump and Republicans to acknowledge the results of the election and Georgia’s late Senate run-off.
But his picks give hope to the base that has supported him all through the long spring, summer and fall, as a notable number of his Cabinet selections are women and people of color. Here are the women that Biden has nominated to the ranks of federal government.
Secretary of the Treasury
Biden’s decision to select Janet Yellen as Treasury nominee seems like a no-brainer.
One of the first Cabinet picks to be announced, Yellen, the former Federal Reserve Chair, comes with a wealth of experience.
Which is good news, because her every movement will be closely watched — she is inheriting one of the worst economies since the Great Recession. But at least it will be in the hands of the first person to have headed the Treasury, the central bank and the White House Council of Economic Advisors.
Secretary of the Interior
New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland will make her own history as she is poised to become the first Native American person to join the highest levels of government.
And not only that, but she will be involved in decision-making in a department that holds large sway over tribal affairs in the United States.
The 60-year-old congresswoman is a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, and she made headlines Wednesday when she showed up to the inauguration in a traditional outfit that represented her Native culture.
[Related: Helping Native American Women Heal]
Secretary of Commerce
Former venture capitalist and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo will step into a new role at the Department of Commerce, taking on issues that range from international tariffs to fisheries and the U.S. Census, according to WPRI.com.
Before she was elected governor of Rhode Island in 2014, she worked at a fund backed by Bain Capital and she also started her own venture firm, according to Politico.
Her confirmation hearing will take place later this month.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge will be adopting a $50 billion agency during a time the nation is facing a major housing crisis because of Covid.
Fudge, the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has a diverse portfolio in the House, where she sits on three committees: Agriculture, Administration and Education and Labor.
She was also the first African American and woman to be elected as mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio.
[Related: How Angie Lozano started Angie’s House]
Council of Economic Advisors
Biden recently announced that prominent economist Cecilia Rouse would head up his Council of Economic Advisors.
Rouse, currently the dean of the Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs, would become the fourth woman and first African American to head the Council, which will be elevated back to Cabinet status when Biden takes office.
She is the daughter of a school psychologist mother and an astrophysicist father, both of whom encouraged her to study economics — which led her to focus particularly on discrimination and long-term unemployment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Biden has tapped Dr. Rochelle Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, to become the CDC’s new director — and try to restore faith in the organization, which has released contradictory and sometimes false (remember when they told us we didn’t have to wear masks?) information under Trump.
She will likely be charged with overseeing the distribution of a Covid vaccine. Walensky has done extensive research on HIV/AIDS, and she is also a professor at Harvard Medical School.
Small Business Administration
Isabel Guzman has been tapped to lead the Small Business Administration, which has been instrumental in administering the Paychex Protection Program — a lifeline for small businesses, nonprofits and self-employed workers to try to keep their businesses afloat during Covid.
Guzman served as deputy chief of staff of the SBA during the Obama administration, and since 2019 she has led California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate.
While she was the first Latina to be nominated to Biden’s Cabinet, she is not the first Latin woman to lead the SBA. Maria Contreras-Sweet headed the agency under Obama.
Office of Management and Budget Director
Neera Tanden is president of the left-leaning think tank Center for American Politics, a point of contention since Biden announced he would tap her to lead OMB, which oversees the executive branch’s budget.
Government watchdog groups have pointed out that CAP, which accepts donations from major corporations, might present a conflict of interest for Tanden. Her nomination has also sparked a barrage of think pieces about her Twitter account, which is very active and opinionated (sound like anyone else you know?). Sample tweet from 2019 that has since been deleted: “Can people on here please focus their ire on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP senators who are Up This Cycle who enable [Trump]?”
Director of National Intelligence
Avril Haines never confined herself to a box.
When she finished high school, she traveled to Japan and earned a brown belt from a prestigious judo academy, and later learned to rebuild cars and airplanes — which she also flew, according to NPR.
Haines served as a top CIA official and then deputy national security advisor during the Obama administration, where she got to know Biden. She pledged not to avoid difficult conversations as head of national intelligence: “You know that I have never shied away from speaking truth to power. And that will be my charge as director of national intelligence. I’ve worked for you for a long time, and I accept this nomination knowing that you would never want me to do otherwise,” Haines told Biden.
Trump’s isolationist worldview has managed to isolate the United Nations, but Biden plans to elevate the position back to Cabinet status — and appoint foreign service veteran Linda Thomas-Greenfield to the role.
With 35 years of experience serving in diplomatic posts all over the world, Thomas-Greenfield, who is Black, will have a significant say in decisions made by the National Security Council.
And she has staying power, even in the tumultuous Trump era — during a 2017 State Department purge, according to The New York Times, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to boot Linda-Greenfield (along with several other Black and Latinx diplomats), but she appealed and managed to hold onto her job until retirement.
Perhaps one of the most important roles to fill is that of spokesperson — the messenger of policy, the face of the administration.
And that role is ever more important when it comes to churning out information to a still-confused public on a still-raging pandemic. Reporters, after being shut out or lambasted — or both — by Trump’s rotating parade of press officers, are optimistic about Jen Psaki, Biden’s pick for press secretary.
Psaki, a former White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman, has pledged to bring back daily briefings, which have largely been sidelined during Trump’s tenure.
She will also have a team of women backing her — Kate Bedingfield, Karine Jean-Pierre and Symone D. Sanders will all play key comms roles.
Secretary of Energy
Born in Canada, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has been nominated to now take on the role of Energy Secretary.
Before serving as governor, she was Attorney General of Michigan from 1999 to 2003, and became the first woman to serve as Michigan’s governor, according to her bio.
Granholm and her husband have recently made headlines after she disclosed millions of dollars in investments linked to the energy industry, according to ABC News.
[Related: Women’s History Like You’ve Never Heard It]
This post, published earlier this month, has been updated.