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Spotlighting ‘Biden women’

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Biden and Harris (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP)

• Three Nigerians Get Appointments
President-elect of the United States of America Joseph Biden Jr. has named individuals he hopes will guide him through his first term as president and help shape his policies in the years ahead. To the delight of many observers, over half of his cabinet picks are women.

It took until 1933 for the first woman to be appointed to a cabinet position (Labor Secretary, Frances Perkins) and since then, women have consistently been underrepresented in the cabinet. But Biden’s administration seems determined to change this starting with Kamala Harris as Vice-President to an all-woman communication team and a generous number of women heading various top positions in his cabinet. If they were all confirmed next week, it would break the record for the most women ever to serve in the 25 current cabinet-level positions.

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Meanwhile, Nigerian and Nigerian-born Americans are not left out, as Biden appointed Osaremen Okolo as a member of his COVID-19 response team. Also, Nigerian-born Adewale Adeyemo was appointed Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department with Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo completing thelist.

Badejo, a lawyer will work alongside other lawyers of the Office of White House Counsel to advise the President; the executive office of the president, as well as the White House staff on legal issues pertaining to the president and the White House.

Here are the other women that make up the president’s cabinet and would shape policy decisions for the next four years of Biden’s leadership.

Kamala Devi Harris (Vice President)
She’s the vice president-elect of the United States and will be formally inaugurated next week. She will be the country’s first female vice president; the highest-ranking woman elected official in U.S. history. Harris who is African/Asian American will also make history as the first person and woman of colour to hold such a position.

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Janet L. Yellen (Treasury Secretary)
Looking for a trusted economist to lead the country’s economy out of a pandemic-driven downturn, Janet Yellen, former chair of the Federal Reserve has been selected as treasury secretary. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to lead the Treasury in its 231-year history.

Deb Haaland (Secretary Of Interior)
In emphasising his intent to redirect the country’s course on environmental policy, Deb Haaland has been selected to oversee the Interior Department. If confirmed, she would be the first Native American appointed to a cabinet secretary position, a barrier she would break after she and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018.

Haaland will also be tasked with overseeing elements of a sweeping and ambitious environmental agenda alongside several of Biden’s top climate aides such as Gina McCarthy and John Kerry.

Gina Raimondo (Secretary Of Commerce)
Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island, has been selected to run the Commerce Department, a role often described informally as the country’s data agency.

Before being elected governor in 2015, Raimondo served as general treasurer of Rhode Island and founded a joint venture firm that helped finance a number of start-ups.

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Linda Thomas-Greenfield (U.N. Ambassador)
Biden plans to restore the post to cabinet-level status after Trump downgraded it, by giving Thomas-Greenfield a seat on his National Security Council. Thomas-Greenfield brings more than 35 years of experience in the Foreign Service, having worked as the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Liberia, Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Gambia and Jamaica.

Katherine Tai (U.S. Trade Representative)
In selecting Tai, Biden is relying on her experience as Chief Trade lawyer in the House and her extensive experience with China. She also played a key role in hammering out the new North American Free Trade Agreement. If confirmed, Tai, who is Asian-American, would be the first woman of color to be the U.S. trade representative.

Susan Rice (Director, White House Domestic Policy Council)
In this role, Rice will oversee a large part of the president’s agenda, including the administration’s response to the pandemic. This position does not require Senate confirmation. At one point, she was on Biden’s list to be Vice President. Having served as an Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, she is widely known for coordinating Obama’s foreign policy portfolio.

Avril Haines (Director, National Intelligence)
She would be the first woman to serve as the nation’s top intelligence official. A trained physicist, Haines also helped oversee a number of covert programs at the National Security Council from 2010 and served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2015.

Marcia Fudge (Secretary, Housing and Urban Development)
Fudge has been in the House since 2008 and will now leave congress to lead the nation’s sprawling housing agency instead of agriculture, which many allies wanted for her.

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Neera Tanden (Director, Office Of Management and Budget)
Tanden was an adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign and in the years since, has been among the most outspoken critics of Trump. If confirmed, Tanden, who was also an adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration, will be in the center of fiscal fights with Congress.

Jennifer M. Granholm (Secretary of Energy)
Granholm, a former governor of Michigan is a longtime champion of renewable energy development. She is widely credited with steering Michigan through the 2008 recession and working with the Obama administration on the subsequent bailout of the automobile industry, which included clean energy investments. After her second term as governor ended in 2011, she became an advocate for renewable energy development, including giving a TED talk on how investing in alternative energy resources can bolster state economies.

Gina McCarthy (White House Climate Coordinator)
McCarthy, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under Obama, will be Biden’s senior White House adviser on climate change. She is known as the architect of some of Obama’s most far-reaching regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions, including the Clean Power Plan, which set the first national limits on carbon emissions from power plants. Since January, she has served as the president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group.

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Jennifer Psaki (White House Press Secretary)
Veteran Democratic spokeswoman, Psaki, who served several communications roles in the Obama administration, including White House communications director, will lead the first all-female presidential communications team, a critical role. Kate Bedingfield, who served as a deputy campaign manager for Biden, will serve as White House communications director; Karine Jean Pierre, who previously served as the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, will be the principal deputy press secretary. Pili Tobar, a former immigrant advocate with the group America’s Voice, will serve as deputy White House communications director. Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Biden on the campaign, will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Kamala Harris while Ashley Etienne, former senior adviser to Nancy Pelosi, will serve as communications director for Harris and Elizabeth Alexander would serve as communications director for Jill Biden.

Rochelle Walensky (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director)
Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital will run the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and will take a pivotal role in helping to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden-Harris’ campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon would serve as Deputy Chief of Staff, while Dana Remus was appointed White House Counsel. Julissa Reynoso Pantaleon is chief of staff to Jill Biden while Julie Chavez Rodriguez; granddaughter of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez was appointed Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Annie Tomasini, who served as Biden’s traveling chief of staff was appointed director of oval office operations.

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