Who are Joe Biden’s top cabinet picks?

Joe Biden’s choice for secretary of state marks a sharp break with the Trump administration. The former deputy secretary of state is a committed internationalist, who spent some of his childhood in Paris and is fluent in French. He views US engagement with the world, and particularly Europe, as vital. He was a member of Bill Clinton’s White House staff in the 1990s and served under President Barack Obama. In 2019 he expressed strong opinions about Brexit, saying: “This is not just the dog that caught the car, this is the dog that caught the car and the car goes into reverse and runs over the dog. It’s a total mess.”

Janet Yellen – treasury secretaryJanet Yellen who is smiling and looking at the camera: Janet Yellen.© Provided by The Guardian Janet Yellen.

The 74-year-old economist was the first woman to chair the US Federal Reserve, and looks set to achieve another first: becoming the country’s first female treasury secretary. Professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley, a former assistant professor at Harvard and a lecturer at the London School of Economics, Yellen is an expert in labour markets and has highlighted the economic impact of uneven growth in the jobs market. Donald Trump declined to reappoint her after his election, making her the first central bank chief not to serve two terms since the Carter administration.

Alejandro Mayorkas – secretary of homeland securityAlejandro Mayorkas wearing a suit and tie: Alejandro Mayorkas.© Provided by The Guardian Alejandro Mayorkas.

Described by the former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro as “a historic and experienced choice to lead an agency in desperate need of reform”, the Cuban-American lawyer served as the deputy secretary of homeland security for nearly three years under Obama. Formerly Obama’s director of US citizenship and immigration services, if confirmed, the 61-year-old would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the department.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield – US ambassador to the United NationsLinda Thomas-Greenfield smiling for the camera: Linda Thomas-Greenfield.© Provided by The Guardian Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

The Louisianian was formerly assistant secretary of state for African affairs under the Obama and Trump administrations. She was also the US ambassador to Liberia under George W Bush and Obama. Of her appointment, Thomas-Greenfield, 68, has said: “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place. I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career in foreign service, and, if confirmed, will do the same as ambassador to the United Nations.”

John Kerry – special presidential envoy for climateJohn Kerry wearing a suit and tie: John Kerry.© Provided by The Guardian John Kerry.

Perhaps the best known face internationally, Kerry will take the lead on combating the climate crisis. The 76-year-old lost the 2004 US election to George W Bush, before going on to become secretary of state from 2013-17 under Obama.

Avril Haines – director of national intelligencea woman in glasses looking at the camera: Avril Haines.© Provided by The Guardian Avril Haines.

The New York-born lawyer was previously deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the first woman to hold that position. She worked closely with Biden from 2007-08 in her role as deputy chief counsel for the Senate Democrats. Haines, 51, was also the first female deputy national security adviser and, if confirmed, will become the first woman to be the director of national intelligence.

Jake Sullivan – national security adviserJake Sullivan wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Jake Sullivan.© Provided by The Guardian Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan was national security adviser to Biden when he was vice-president , and served as deputy chief of staff to Hillary Clinton when she was secretary of state. Since 2014, the 43-year-old has been teaching at Yale law school.


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