Joe Biden

Deb Haaland, Janet Yellen and Others Set to Make History in the Biden-Harris Administration

Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are continuing to roll out the names of top officials and advisors who will join them in the White House.

Sticking to his commitment of "building an administration that looks like America," Biden has not only added diversity at the top with Harris being the first woman, Black American and South Asian American VP in U.S. history, but he's also created a transition team that already consists of 46% people of color and 52% women, according to data obtained by CNN.

Following up to their first round of announcements for White House senior staff members, Biden and Harris have now announced that they will have an all-female communications team, marking the first time in history that all of the top aides speaking on behalf of an administration are women.

In addition to announcing members of their communications team, Biden and Harris have also announced some of their picks for top cabinet positions, with many of these leaders making history as the "first" in their position.

From Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, to Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, below are a few leaders who are expected to make history in the Biden-Harris administration.

Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee January 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.
Win McNamee | Getty Images
Avril Haines, former deputy national security advisor and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee January 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.

President-elect Biden has selected Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to serve in this role.

Haines, 51, comes to this role with years of national security experience, having served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security advisor from 2015 to 2017 under the Obama administration. Haines, who received a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, also served as the first female deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2015.

Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Janet Yellen

Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has been selected by president-elect Biden to serve as Treasury secretary. If confirmed by the Senate, Yellen will be the first woman to lead this department.

Yellen, who is currently an economist at the Brookings Institute, also made history in 2014 when she became the first woman to serve as Fed chair. During her four years in this role, Yellen helped to achieve a growing jobs market and historically low interest rates, according to experts.

Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. deputy secretary of homeland security speaks at the 2015 International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Miami Beach, Florida, June 8, 2015.
Joe Skipper | Reuters
Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. deputy secretary of homeland security speaks at the 2015 International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and World Air Transport Summit in Miami Beach, Florida, June 8, 2015.

President-elect Biden has selected Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as secretary of Homeland Security. If confirmed by the Senate, Mayorkas will be the first immigrant and Latino to lead the department.

Mayorkas, who was born in Havana, Cuba, will come to the role with years of experience having served as the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2016 and as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013 under the Obama administration. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Loyola Law School, Mayorkas is a nationally recognized lawyer in the private sector, who recently served as partner at law firm WilmerHale.

Cecilia Elena Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

Chair of Council of Economic Advisers nominee Cecilia Rouse speaks after US President-elect Joe Biden announced his economic team at The Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 1, 2020.
Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images
Chair of Council of Economic Advisers nominee Cecilia Rouse speaks after US President-elect Joe Biden announced his economic team at The Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 1, 2020.

Cecilia Elena Rouse, current dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, has been nominated by president-elect Biden to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). If confirmed, she will be the first African American and just the fourth woman to lead the CEA in its 74-year history.

Prior to becoming dean in 2012, Rouse served in the Obama-Biden administration as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers and she served on the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration. Rouse, who first joined Princeton's faculty in 1992, is a renowned labor economist who received both a bachelor of arts degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.

Neera Tanden, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Neera Tanden
Michael Brochstein | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden, current president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, has been nominated by president-elect Biden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If confirmed, Tanden will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB.

Prior to her current role, Tanden worked as chief operating officer for the Center for American Progress. She also previously served as senior adviser for health reform at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and as director of domestic policy for the first Obama-Biden presidential campaign.

General Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense

Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, prepares to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, prepares to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 16, 2015 in Washington, DC.

General Lloyd Austin, a retired four-star general with more than 40 years of military service, has been nominated by president-elect Biden to serve as secretary of defense. If confirmed, he will be the first African American in this role.

A graduate of West Point, Auburn University and Webster University, General Austin was the 12th commander of the U.S. Central Command before retiring in 2016. In addition to becoming just the sixth African American to rise to the army's top rank of four-star general in 2010, General Austin also made history previously in his career as the first Black general officer to command a U.S. Army Division in combat, to lead a Corps in combat, to serve as vice chief of staff of the army and to serve as commander of the U.S. Central Command.

Deb Haaland, Interior Secretary

Native American candidate Deb Haaland who is running for Congress in New Mexico's 1st congressional district seat for the upcoming mid-term elections, speaks in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 1, 2018.
MARK RALSTON | AFP | Getty Images
Native American candidate Deb Haaland who is running for Congress in New Mexico's 1st congressional district seat for the upcoming mid-term elections, speaks in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 1, 2018.

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland has been tapped by President-elect Biden to serve as interior secretary in his administration. If confirmed, she will be the first Native American to serve in this role.

Haaland, who currently serves as chair of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, will play a key role in overseeing the country's natural resources, including tribal lands, if she's confirmed to the interior secretary position. Her historic appointment, according to many, could signify a major turning point for the Interior Department's rocky relationship with the 574 federally recognized tribes.

In a statement on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed her support of Haaland's nomination for the role, "Congresswoman Haaland knows the territory, and if she is the President-elect's choice for Interior Secretary, then he will have made an excellent choice."

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