Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of ESSENCE Magazine.
The ladies were photographed exclusively for ESSENCE, September 4, 2015, in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
LORETTA LYNCH, 56, U.S. Attorney General
“I want to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and make sure everyone has a voice.”
“When women succeed, America succeeds.”
“My parents always taught me to work hard and to never give a halfhearted performance.”
“Always be yourself. It sounds cliché, but as you get older, it becomes clear what being yourself truly means.”
“The most inspiring moments come in times of quiet reflection on my walk to and from work.”
“Truth will prevail regardless of the opposition and enormity of the challenge.”
“I have the chance to connect with Americans overseas who are real-life examples of the work we’re doing.”
“Never take a job that doesn’t terrify [you]. Those are the jobs worth doing.”
“You may not be your college valedictorian, but being present and contributing will earn you a spot on this team.”
“It hit me that little girls would grow up in a world where seeing a Black world leader was exceptional, but not unattainable.”
“Amazing things happen during the fourth quarter.”
“The work we do mobilizing communities is only possible with strong relationships.”
“Never take anything for granted.”
“Despite the demanding schedules, the White House is often peaceful and quiet.”
“A college professor told me, ‘Dream, but don’t sleep.’ ”
“Millennials I work with are committed to the causes of change and progress in their communities.”
“As a naturalized American, I am moved by the gratitude of people invited to be sworn in as citizens.”
“Enjoy this very special moment, but never lose perspective. It is important to stay focused.”
“The amount of good a person can do is limited only by her creativity and effort.”
“My most inspiring moment was watching the faces of dozens of K-12 students light up as their films were screened by the President.”
“I’ve learned to be patient, thorough and deliberate.”
“The White House is composed of people who are passionate about the country.”
“Be open, be flexible and be willing to take a risk.”
“Keep your head down and work hard. Distractions are endless, but tune them out.”
“Always follow up with people and say thank you! Handwritten notes will get you a long way.”
“You don’t need connections to work in this administration."
“No role has to be perfect; it just has to be perfect for you.”
“Never get too comfortable. Always keep your eyes and ears open for new challenges.”
“There is always a way to get to yes if you’re creative, prepared and work hard."