The Historic Firsts in President Joe Biden's Administration

Pending cabinet confirmation hearings, President Biden's administration is shaping up to include a number of groundbreaking appointments 

01 of 21

Joe Biden

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty

In addition to choosing "a Cabinet of barrier breakers, a Cabinet of firsts," Joe Biden is making history as well. At 78 years old, he is the oldest U.S. president to take the Oath of Office.

02 of 21

Kamala Harris

California Senator Kamala Harris speaks during a rally launching her presidential campaign on January 27, 2019
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. NOAH BERGER/AFP via Getty

Harris is the first female, Black American and person of South Asian descent to be elected Vice President in the history of the United States.

03 of 21

Biden and Harris' Communications Teams

Joe Biden, Kamala Harris
From left: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Maya Harris/Twitter

Biden and Harris have announced that they will have an all-female communications team – another first for their administration.

Kate Bedingfield will serve as Biden's communications director, Jen Psaki will serve as his press secretary, and the rest of the team includes Pili Tobar, Karine Jean-Pierre, Symone Sanders, Ashley Etienne and Elizabeth Alexander.

04 of 21

Dr. Jill Biden

Jill Biden
Roy Rochlin/Getty

Biden will be the first First Lady to keep her job. Biden is an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, a position she held while her husband was the vice president, as well.

05 of 21

Doug Emhoff

kamala harris and doug emhoff
From left: Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff. Adam Schultz/Biden for President

Kamala Harris' husband, Doug Emhoff – whom she married in 2014 after meeting on a blind date the year before – will be the first man to step into the role of "Second Gentleman."

06 of 21

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg. Win McNamee/Getty

If confirmed, the former presidential hopeful would make history by becoming the first publicly-out LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the Senate. Biden has tapped him to serve as secretary of transportation.

Buttigieg is also the youngest member of Biden's Cabinet thus far and the only one of Biden's former opponents from the 2020 presidential election to be nominated.

07 of 21

Adewale 'Wally' Adeyemo

Adewale Wally Adeyemo

Adeyemo has been chosen by Biden to become deputy secretary of the Treasury. If confirmed, he will be the first Black person to serve in the role.

He previously served during the Obama administration as Obama's senior international economic adviser, deputy national security adviser, deputy director of the National Economic Council and the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was also previously senior advisor and deputy chief of staff at the Department of the Treasury.

08 of 21

General Lloyd Austin

General Lloyd Austin
Lloyd Austin. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The retired four-star general has been nominated by President Biden to serve as the secretary of Defense. If confirmed, Austin will be the first Black person to take on the role.

09 of 21

Xavier Becerra

Rep. Xavier Becerra
Drew Angerer/Getty

Becerra made history as California's first Latino Attorney General, and if confirmed, he would become the first Latino to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.

10 of 21

Carlos Elizondo

Carlos E. Elizondo
Rebecca D'Angelo/The Washington Post/Getty

Elizondo, who served as a special assistant to President Obama and social secretary to the Bidens throughout the Obama administration, is the first Hispanic American to be appointed White House social secretary.

11 of 21

Deb Haaland

Rep. Deb Haaland
Rep. Deb Haaland. Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty

President Biden has nominated New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland to serve as interior secretary. If confirmed, Haaland will be the first Native American to serve in the role (or indeed, in any cabinet position).

12 of 21

Avril Haines

Avril Haines
Joe Raedle/Getty

Biden selected Haines, who served as the first female deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 201 to 2015, to be the director of national intelligence. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to serve in this role.

13 of 21

Kathleen Hicks

Kathleen Hicks
US Department of State

Hicks, a defense expert and academic who previously served as principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, would be the first Senate-confirmed woman to serve as deputy defense secretary.

14 of 21

Alejandro Mayorkas

Alejandro Mayorkas
Mark Makela/Getty

Biden has selected Mayorkas to serve as secretary of Homeland Security. If confirmed, Mayorka – who was born in Havana, Cuba – will be the first Latino and first immigrant to serve in this role.

He previously served as the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama.

15 of 21

Michael Regan

Michael Regan
Joshua Roberts/Getty

If confirmed, Regan would be the first Black man to lead the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He would be the second Black person to serve in the role, the first being Lisa Jackson during the Obama administration.

16 of 21

Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Alex Wong/Getty

Yellen, who made history as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, would make history again (if confirmed by Senate) by serving as Treasury secretary.

17 of 21

Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden
Ethan Miller/Getty

Current President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Tanden has been nominated by Biden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to serve in the role.

18 of 21

Katherine Tai

Katherine Tai
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Biden has nominated Tai to serve as U.S. trade representative. If confirmed by the Senate, Tai will be the first woman of color to serve in the role.

19 of 21

Cecilia Rouse

Cecilia Rouse
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty

Rouse has been nominated to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. If confirmed, she will be the first Black woman to serve in the role. She is currently the dean of the Princeton School of Public and Internal Affairs.

20 of 21

Rachel Levine

Rachel Levine
Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty

Biden announced that he will nominate Rachel Levine as his assistant secretary of health. If her nomination is approved, Levine, who is Pennsylvania's secretary of health, will become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the United States Senate.

21 of 21

Major Biden

joe biden
Champ and Major Biden. twitter. inset: getty images

Biden's German shepherd, Major (right), will also make history as the first rescue dog to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Biden family adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association in November 2018, 10 years after welcoming their first German shepherd, Champ (left).

The Delaware Humane Association and Pumpkin Pet Insurance hosted a January 2021 "indoguration" for Major, which raised more than $200,000 for DHA.

Related Articles