President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris promised a White House that looks like America. And if all the women nominated to serve the country, back in January, are confirmed, the Biden-Harris Administration could boast the highest number of cabinet and cabinet-level offices held by women in history, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
“To meet the unprecedented challenges facing the American people, we will need deeply experienced and knowledgeable leaders,” Harris said at a January press conference. The possibility of so many brilliant Black women coming into the new administration makes Waikinya J.S. Clanton, a senior advisor at the Democratic National Committee, “immensely proud,” she says. With Harris firmly in her position, here are a few more inspiring women ready to lead.
This article, “A Seat at the Table,” originally appeared in the March/April issue of ESSENCE magazine, available on newsstands now.
Susan Rice, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
Armed with extensive government bonafides, Rice is the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor in the Obama Administration. “She will ensure racial justice is at the forefront of every federal agency’s agenda,” NAACP president/CEO Derrick Johnson has said. Rice, a Stanford grad and Rhodes Scholar, earned a Doctor of Philosophy in International Relations at the University of Oxford, in England.
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Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division
The daughter of Jamaican immigrants, and a Columbia Law School grad, served as President/Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Kristen is a force of nature,” the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, co-chair, said in a statement with other members of the Lawyers’ Committee board of directors. “She has been working tirelessly…to ensure that all Americans share the same rights and privileges as equal members of our society.”
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Brenda Mallory, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
Mallory is the former Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center, where her portfolio included what she deemed “the most significant environmental issues of our time.” During the Obama Administration, the Yale University and Columbia Law School alumnus served as General Counsel for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
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Cecilia Rouse, PH.D., Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA)
A top labor economist with a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, Rouse is the first Black official to head the CEA. The former Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs has worked both in academia and in government, focusing on women and people of color in the labor force. “This job is about advising the President on how to rebuild and revive our economy,” the California native has said.
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Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service. The career diplomat has held roles as former Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs and Ambassador to Liberia. Her global postings have included Switzerland, Pakistan and Jamaica. “My mother taught me to lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place,” the alumna of Louisiana State University, who holds an MPA from the University of Wisconsin, has said. “I’ve carried that lesson with me throughout my career.”
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Jewel H. Bronaugh, PH.D. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
Bronaugh, the former Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, was Dean of the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University. Her initiatives have ranged from addressing farmers’ mental health to food-access issues in marginalized communities. She’s eager to promote U.S. agriculture, help end hunger and preserve our nation’s natural resources. The Petersburg, Virginia, native earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech.
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Marcella Nunez-Smith, M.D. COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair
Dr. Nunez-Smith is the founding director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at the Yale School of Medicine, an organization created to address inequities in health and health care. She will advise the White House on efforts to reduce COVID-19 racial and ethnic disparities around the pandemic. Originally from Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dr. Nunez-Smith received her B.A. from Swarthmore College, her M.D. from Jefferson Medical College and a Masters in health science from Yale University.
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Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Fudge, known to Ohioans as a former mayor of Warrensville Heights, served in Congress for 12 years. In the 113th Congress, she chaired the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). “We first need to build a foundation for those struggling with housing,” Fudge—who graduated from the Ohio State University and earned her J.D. from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland- Marshall College of Law—has said. “That means ensuring people keep their homes during a pandemic and keeping people off the streets. Then we can start enacting programs that make life better.” Fudge is a past National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.