President-elect Joe Biden is slowly naming the individuals he hopes will guide him through his first term as president and help shape his thinking in the years ahead. Cabinet nominees are career officials and recognized experts in their fields, but they still face a confirmation process that has grown bitterly polarized. With a cast of well-known nominees and a new position focused on climate change, Biden has begun to telegraph some of the issues he intends to prioritize.

Antony Blinken

Secretary of state

The Harvard grad, who served as staff director for Biden on the Foreign Relations Committee, will work with a team steeped in foreign policy.

Known for

Helping lead U.S. diplomatic efforts in the fight against ISIS and managing alliances in Asia during his time in the Obama administration.


Blinken is a defender of global alliances. He’s expected to help calm U.S. diplomats and global leaders alike.

“He will rebuild morale and trust in the State Department.” - Joe Biden

Jake Sullivan

National security adviser

In his 30s, he conducted the talks that led to a cease-fire in Gaza in 2012 and the secret opening of negotiations with Iran that led to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Known for

Formerly one of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides. Graduate of Minneapolis’ Southwest High School.


Says President Trump’s “America First” motto only isolated the U.S. and created opportunities for adversaries.

Biden’s goal is “making sure our democracy is robust and strong and inclusive and diverse.”

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

U.N. ambassador

Oldest of eight children who grew up in segregated Louisiana, she was first to graduate from high school and college.

Known for

Former U.S. ambassador to Liberia; assistant secretary of state for African affairs under President Obama.


She says she aims to “lead with the power of kindness and compassion to make the world a better place.”

“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.”

John Kerry

Envoy for climate

As a senator from Massachusetts, he ran for president unsuccessfully 16 years ago and then became President Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Known for

First drew attention as a decorated Vietnam vet turned anti-war activist.


He has been advocating action on climate change since he served in 1992 with then-Sen. Al Gore on the U.S. delegation to the first Rio Earth Summit.

“This country alone cannot solve this challenge. The whole world must come together. Failure is not an option.”

Janet Yellen

Treasury secretary

She won’t just be the first woman to hold the job, she’ll be the first person to hold all three of the top U.S. policy positions in economics — including chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and of the Federal Reserve.

Known for

Insisting that economics is ultimately about people.


Keynesian economist who believes markets are imperfect and sometimes need government intervention.

“Janet is an inspired choice.” - Mpls. Fed President Neel Kashkari

Avril Haines

Director of national intelligence

Haines previously served as deputy director of the CIA and as President Obama’s principal deputy national security adviser.

Known for

She worked to increase oversight of controversial covert operations.


The first woman to have the job, she will face the tough assignment of restoring Americans’ trust in U.S. intelligence agencies.

“I do not envy the task Haines will have in rebuilding trust in our political leadership.” - Rep. Jim Langevin

Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary of homeland security

He would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the agency. As an attorney, he has studied the legality of the Trump administration’s agenda on immigration.

Known for

Helping protect from deportation 700,000 young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.


The Cuban-born department veteran is seen as a stabilizer after chaos.

“I will work to restore faith in our institutions and protect our security here at home.”

Ron Klain

Chief of staff

Klain is a lawyer and veteran Democratic operative who is a decadeslong Biden confidant and vice presidential chief of staff.

Known for

He is considered to be the Democratic Party’s expert on debate preparation.


He’s a behind-the-scenes strategist with a legal mind and political ear.

“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff.” - Joe Biden

What’s left?

Though several of the key positions covering foreign policy and national security now have nominees, other consequential picks have yet to be announced, with pressure building on Biden from activists and interest groups in support of their preferred candidates. Other posts to be filled include head of the Interior Department and head of the Labor Department.