President-elect Joe Biden campaigned to have a government as diverse as America. After 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president, Biden now has an opportunity to tap a broad range of government officials and policy experts to lead the federal departments.

In his first speech as president-elect, Biden echoed that message: “I said from the outset I wanted a campaign that represented America, and I think we did that. Now that’s what I want the administration to look like.”

Part of that diversity could extend to party. Obama’s Cabinet included Republicans such as Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel at Defense and Ray LaHood at Transportation.

Republican speakers at the Democratic National Convention included former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former New York Rep. Susan Molinari and Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay and Hewlett-Packard, now at Quibi.

“I’m running as a proud Democrat – but I will govern as an American president – to unite and to heal,” Biden told supporters in Tampa on Oct. 28, in phrasing repeated often during the campaign.

Here are a few of the African-American names being bounced around as potential Biden cabinet members.


• Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, a Black woman who heads the Agriculture subcommittee on nutrition and oversight.


Mellody Hobson, the president and co-CEO of Ariel Investments. She is the former chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation, having stepped down after negotiating the acquisition of DreamWorks by NBCUniversal in 2016.

Defense Department

• Jeh Johnson, a Black lawyer who served as secretary of homeland security in the Obama administration and previously as general counsel at the Pentagon.


Bobby Scott, D-Virgina, has served in Congress since 1993 and is chair of the House Committee on Education.


Heather McTeer Toney is an environmentalist and attorney who served as a Regional Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Southeast Region. She was appointed by Pres. Obama. Toney also is the first woman and African American to serve as Mayor of Greenville, Mississippi.

Homeland Security 

Val Demings, D-Florida, has been a congresswoman since 2017. She is the former Chief of Police of the Orlando, FL, Police Department, the first woman to lead the department, capping a 27-year career with the department. 

Housing & Urban Development

• Rep. Karen Bass of California, was once considered for Biden’s running mate. As speaker of the state Assembly, she became the first Black woman to lead a state legislative chamber.

Alvin Brown, former mayor of Jacksonville, FL.  He’s a former Washington insider with experience in Housing and Agriculture.

Keisha Lance Bottoms is mayor of Atlanta.  Her prior career included serving as a prosecutor and magistrate judge.

Maurice Jones is the president and CEO of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a national community development financial institution. He served as the Deputy Undersecretary of HUD in the Obama administration, and then as the Virginia Secretary of Commerce.

Justice Department 

• Stacey Abrams, a Black former member of the Georgia Legislature who was among those considered as Biden’s running mate. Abrams has been a fierce advocate for voting rights after running an unsuccessful but high-profile campaign for governor of Georgia, a state that was surprisingly competitive for Biden.

• Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., a Black member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and presidential candidate, was a key sponsor of sweeping criminal justice legislation aimed at cutting mandatory minimum sentences and reducing the federal prison population.

Keith Ellison is the Attorney General of Minnesota and previously represented Minnesota in Congress from 2007 to 2019.

Letitia James is the Attorney General of New York since 2018.  She was a former member of the New York City Council.  


• William Spriggs, a Black professor of economics at Howard University, chief economist to the AFL-CIO and former assistant secretary of labor during the Obama administration.


Marie Johns served as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Obama administration. 

Raphael Bostic is an economist, academic, and the 15th President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Michael Blake serves as both a New York Assemblyman and as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

State Department

• Susan Rice, who is Black and served as national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration. Biden already considered her as his running mate after working with her in the White House. But Rice could face a rocky confirmation in a closely divided Senate because of statements she made after the 2012 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Libya. Republicans said she misled the American public about the nature of that attack, which left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.


• Roger Ferguson, the Black chief executive of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America for more than a decade and a former Fed vice chairman.

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