As President-Elect Joe Biden Introduces His Top Cabinet Colleagues, Meet His Team USA

US President-elect Joe Biden has announced names of key figures for his cabinet while nominating long time foreign policy advisor Anthony Blinken as the next Secretary of State.

Introducing his team, Biden took to Twitter and said, “I’ve long said that America leads not by the example of our power, but by the power of our example. I am proud to put forward this incredible team that will lead by example.”

Blinken, who started his career as foreign speech writer of former US President Bill Clinton, was the former national security adviser to the vice president when Biden was the resident of the US Naval Observatory.

Earlier, Biden had said, “Today, I’m announcing the first members of my national security and foreign policy team. They will rally the world to take on our challenges like no other—challenges that no one nation can face alone. It’s time to restore American leadership. I trust this group to do just that.”

Biden-Kamala Harris transition team also put out a tweet outlining how going forward “American national security and foreign policy will be led by experienced professionals”.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris while extending her congratulations to the new team said, “Over the past few months, I’ve come to know the sound judgment, expertise, and character of our national security and foreign policy nominees. They are patriots and public servants to their core and I look forward to working alongside them on behalf of the American people.”

FACE TO FACE WITH BIDEN’S TEAM

Post Biden’s introduction, his team members also spoke out for the first time to share their thoughts on the road ahead.

ANTHONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE 

“Now we have to proceed with equal measures of humility and confidence. Humility because, as the President-elect said, we can’t solve all of the world’s problems alone. We need to be working with other countries, we need their cooperation. We need their partnership. But also confidence, because America at its best still has greater ability than any other country on Earth to bring others together to meet the challenges of our time.”

Antony Blinken has held senior foreign policy positions in two administrations over three decades, and has advised President-elect Biden on foreign policy since 2002.

From 2015 to 2017, Blinken served as Deputy Secretary of State under the Obama-Biden administration. In that role, Blinken helped to lead diplomacy in the fight against ISIL, the rebalance to Asia, and the global refugee crisis, while building bridges to the innovation community.

Before that, Blinken served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. He chaired the Deputies Committee, the administration’s principal forum for formulating foreign policy.

During the first Obama term, he was National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden. Blinken served as Democratic Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2002 to 2008 and was a member of President Clinton’s National Security Council staff from 1994 to 2001.

Prior to serving as foreign policy advisor during the Biden-Harris campaign and transition, Blinken served as managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and was the Herter/Nitze Distinguished Scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Before entering public service, Blinken was a reporter for The New Republic magazine, writing extensively on foreign policy. He is the author of Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe, and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis.

He has also served as a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and a global affairs analyst for CNN. Blinken is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. Blinken graduated from high school in Paris, where he lived from ages nine to eighteen.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY

“My father and mother brought me to this country to escape communism. They cherished our democracy and were intensely proud to become United States citizens. I have carried that pride throughout my nearly 20 years of government service and throughout my life.”

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant nominated to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security. He has led a distinguished 30-year career as a law enforcement official and a nationally-recognized lawyer in the private sector.

Mayorkas served as the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the Obama-Biden Administration from 2013 to 2016, and as the Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from 2009 to 2013.

During his tenure at DHS, he led the development and implementation of DACA, negotiated cybersecurity and homeland security agreements with foreign governments, led the Department’s response to Ebola and Zika, helped build and administer the Blue Campaign to combat human trafficking, and developed an emergency relief program for orphaned youth following the tragic January 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Mayorkas also created the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to better ensure the integrity of the legal immigration system.

Mayorkas began his government service in the Department of Justice, where he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, specializing in the prosecution of white collar crime.

After nearly nine years as a federal prosecutor, he became the youngest United States Attorney in the nation, overseeing prosecutions of national significance, including the investigation and prosecution of financial fraud, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, public corruption, violent crime, cybercrime, environmental crime, international money laundering, and securities fraud.

Mayorkas has also led a distinguished legal career in the private sector, at O’Melveny & Myers and most recently WilmerHale, where he has specialized in strategic counseling and crisis management.  He serves several non-profit organizations focused on providing legal services to the poor, refugee resettlement, and education for underprivileged youth.

Mayorkas was born in Havana, Cuba and was the highest-ranking Cuban American to serve in the Obama-Biden Administration.  Mayorkas received his bachelor’s degree with distinction from the University of California at Berkeley and a law degree from Loyola Law School.

AVRIL HAINES, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE

“Mr. President-elect, 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 and that you value the perspective of the intelligence community and that you will do so even when what I have to say may be inconvenient or difficult, and I assure you, there will be those times.”

Avril Haines has worked with  President-elect Biden in various roles for more than a decade, and will become the first woman to serve as Director of National Intelligence.

During the Obama administration, Haines served as Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015-2017, during which time she led the National Security Council’s (NSC) Deputies Committee.

From 2013-2015, Haines was the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; she was the first woman to hold both of these positions. Avril began her service in the Obama administration in 2010 as the NSC Legal Advisor.

From 2007-2008, Haines served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee while President-elect Biden served as chairman. Haines has led the Transition’s National Security and Foreign Policy Team since its founding in June 2020.

Prior to that time, she served in various roles including Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University; a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory; and a member of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. Haines received her bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, US AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS 

“On this day, I’m thinking about the American people, my fellow career diplomats and public servants around the world. I want to say to you: America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.”

Retired Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, is returning to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service in 2017.

From 2013 to 2017 she served as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she led the bureau focused on the development and management of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (2012-2013), leading a team in charge of the State Department’s 70,000-strong workforce.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s distinguished Foreign Service career includes an ambassadorship to Liberia (2008-2012), and postings in Switzerland (at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations), Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. In Washington, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs (2006-2008), and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (2004-2006).

Since 2017, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has led the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic commercial diplomacy firm chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

She was also the inaugural Distinguished Resident Fellow in African Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy from fall 2017 to spring 2019. She joined ISD in spring 2017 as a Senior State Department Fellow.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield earned a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, where she worked towards a PhD. She received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Wisconsin in May 2018.

JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR 

“We will be vigilant in the face of enduring threats, from nuclear weapons to terrorism. But you have also tasked us with reimagining our national security for the unprecedented combination of crises we face at home and abroad. The pandemic, the economic crisis, the climate crisis, technological disruption, threats to democracy, racial injustice and inequality in all forms. The work of the team behind me today will contribute to progress across all these fronts.”

Jake Sullivan is currently a senior policy advisor to President-elect Biden and formerly served as Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama-Biden administration.

He previously served as Director of the Policy Planning Staff at the U.S. Department of State and as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During his time in government, Sullivan was a lead negotiator in the initial talks that paved the way for the Iran nuclear deal and played a key role in the U.S.-brokered negotiations that led to a ceasefire in Gaza in 2012. He also played a key role in shaping the Asia-Pacific rebalance strategy at both the State Department and the White House.

In the years following his service in the Obama-Biden administration, Sullivan was a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where he helped conceive and design a bipartisan task force project on a foreign policy for the middle class.  He also held teaching posts at Yale Law School, Dartmouth College, and the University of New Hampshire.

He co-founded and co-chaired the advisory board for National Security Action, a nonprofit national security advocacy organization, and served on the advisory boards of a number of organizations involved in foreign policy and national security. Sullivan was also a senior policy adviser on the Hillary for America presidential campaign in 2016.

He holds a B.A. in political science and international studies from Yale College; a M.Phil in International Relations from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a J.D. from Yale Law School. He grew up as the second of five children in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is a proud product of the Minneapolis public schools. He lives with his wife Maggie Goodlander in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

JOHN KERRY, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE

“Mr. President-elect, you’ve put forward a bold, transformative climate plan, but you’ve also underscored that no country alone can solve this challenge. Even the United States for all of our industrial strength is responsible for only 13% of global emissions. To end this crisis, the whole world must come together. You’re right to rejoin Paris on day one, and you’re right to recognize that Paris alone is not enough.”

John Kerry served as America’s 68th Secretary of State, the first sitting Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman to serve as Secretary in over a century.

Secretary Kerry elevated environmental challenges as diplomatic priorities, from oceans to hydrofluorocarbons. He was a key architect of the Paris Climate Accord, and signed the historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions with his granddaughter on his lap. The New York Times described Kerry as “America’s Mr. Diplomacy,” leading on challenges from nuclear non-proliferation to extremism.

A Yale University graduate, Kerry volunteered for the Navy, serving two tours of duty in Vietnam. He was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V, and three Purple Hearts. Kerry was elected Massachusetts’ Lieutenant Governor in 1982 and US Senator in 1984.

In 2009, Kerry became Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The first hearing he Chaired was on climate change. He also led Senate efforts to ratify a landmark nonproliferation treaty, successfully intervened in Afghanistan’s election crisis, and negotiated bipartisan domestic climate change legislation.

Kerry’s 2018 memoir, Every Day Is Extra, was a best-seller. He has most recently been Yale University’s Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs and Visiting Distinguished Statesman at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace spearheading programming on climate change and oceans. He co-founded World War Zero to unite unlikely allies on climate change and is a Board Member of the American Security Project.

He and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry have a blended family of two daughters, three sons, and seven grandchildren.

(UPDATED ON NOV 24, 11.15 AM IST)

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