Over the past two weeks, President-Elect Joe Biden announced several nominations and appointments for key health and climate related positions in his Administration.
On December 17, the Biden-Harris transition team announced the names of individuals who will lead their climate team. “This brilliant, tested, trailblazing team will be ready on day one to confront the existential threat of climate change with a unified national response rooted in science and equity,” said Biden.
- Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) has been selected to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Haaland currently serves as Vice Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources and Chairwoman of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. She served on Biden’s climate engagement advisory council and is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. She also co-sponsored the American Public Lands and Waters Climate Solution Act (H.R. 5435), which would require the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions from public lands. Prior to her work in Congress, Haaland worked as an entrepreneur and served as Chairwoman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. If confirmed by the Senate, she will become the first Native American ever to serve in a presidential Cabinet. Haaland received a B.A. from the University of New Mexico and earned a J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
- Michael Regan will be nominated to serve as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Regan currently serves as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and previously worked at the EPA as an air quality expert under the Clinton and Bush Administrations. He also served as the Associate Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit environmental advocacy group. He earned his bachelor’s degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and has an MPA from George Washington University. Regan’s nomination requires Senate confirmation.
- Biden has selected former two-term Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D) to lead the Department of Energy. Granholm previously served as the Attorney General of Michigan. She also served as an advisor to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program. She is a professor at the University of California’s Goldman School of Public Policy and is a Senior Research Fellow at the Berkeley Center for Information Technology Research in the Interests of Society (CITRIS). Granholm received her BA from University of California, Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School. Her nomination also requires Senate confirmation.
- Brenda Mallory, an environmental lawyer, will be nominated to serve as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). She currently serves as Director of Regulatory Policy at the Southern Environmental Law Center, a non-profit environmental public interest law firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mallory formerly worked as General Counsel to the CEQ and as Principal Deputy General Counsel at the EPA. Mallory is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School.
- Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will be appointed to the position of National Climate Advisor and will lead the newly created White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy. She is the President and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit international environmental advocacy group. During her tenure leading the EPA, she was the driving force behind the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, which established national standards for reducing carbon emissions from power plants. McCarthy was formerly a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment. She previously served as Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. She earned her BA from the University of Massachusetts at Boston and her MS from Tufts University.
- Ali Zaidi, a leading climate expert, will be appointed as Deputy National Climate Advisor. Zaidi currently serves the state of New York as Deputy Secretary to the Governor for Energy and Environment and Chairman of Climate Policy and Finance. He previously served as Associate Director for Natural Resources, Energy, and Science for the Office of Management and Budget under the Obama Administration. He received his A.B. from Harvard University and his J.D. from Georgetown University.
On December 10, the President-Elect announced that he will nominate former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to once again lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Vilsack, a former two-term Governor of Iowa, led the USDA for eight years under President Obama. During his tenure, he oversaw initiatives to increase rural investments, improve the nation’s school meal system, and increase food safety standards. He also served as Chair of the White House Rural Council. Vilsack previously served as Mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and in the Iowa State Senate. He received his BA from Hamilton College and his JD from Albany Law School.
Biden also announced several key members of his public health team, including:
- The Attorney General of California, Xavier Becerra, has been chosen to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Becerra is a proponent of expanding access to health care previously served twelve terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He received his BA from Stanford and his JD from Stanford Law School.
- Dr. Vivek Murthy, a physician who formerly served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, has been tapped to return as Surgeon General. Murthy currently also serves as co-chair of Biden’s COVID-19 transition Advisory Board. He received his BA from Harvard University, his MBA from the Yale School of Management, and his MD from the Yale School of Medicine.
- Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will be nominated to serve as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky, an experienced HIV researcher and a practicing infectious diseases physician, received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, her MD from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and her MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health.
- Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on health care disparities, will serve as the COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair. Nunez-Smith currently serves as Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health, and Management and Associate Dean for Health Equity Research at the Yale School of Medicine. She received her BA from Swarthmore College, her MD from Jefferson Medical College, and her master of health science from Yale University.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, has been tapped to serve as Chief Medical Adviser to the President on COVID-19. Fauci has served as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984 and has advised the last six U.S. presidents on a broad range of health and medical issues. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2008. Fauci received his BA from the College of the Holy Cross, and his MD from Cornell University.
“This trusted and accomplished team of leaders will bring the highest level of integrity, scientific rigor, and crisis-management experience to one of the toughest challenges America has ever faced—getting the pandemic under control so that the American people can get back to work, back to their lives, and back to their loved ones,” stated President-Elect Biden.