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Yale alumni John Kerry ’66 and Jake Sullivan ’98 LAW ’03 were named to President-elect Joe Biden’s national security team last week, as part of his first slate of picks. On Monday, Janet Yellen GRD ’71, Neera Tanden LAW ’96 and Adewale Adeyemo LAW ’09 were named to Biden’s economic team.

Biden plans to nominate Yellen — who previously served as chair of the Federal Reserve — for the position of treasury secretary. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to ever hold the role. Tanden and Adeyemo will be nominated for the roles of director of the Office of Management and Budget and deputy treasury secretary, respectively. Sullivan was named to the position of national security advisor, after serving as the national security advisor to Biden while he was vice president. Former Secretary of State John Kerry was tapped to be the special presidential envoy for climate, a new cabinet position that will focus on addressing climate change.

None of the appointees could be reached for comment.

“There is a long and proud history of service among Yale alumni — for country, community, and fellow Yalies,” Weili Cheng, executive director of the Yale Alumni Association, wrote in an email to the News. “We’re delighted to see that continue with the incoming administration, and we wish them, and everyone who will serve and continues to serve, all the very best in months and years to come.”

The Biden campaign announced the first set of appointees on Nov. 23, filling key national security and foreign policy positions. Kerry and Sullivan were among the initial six picks announced, and their roles will not require Senate confirmation. Biden announced his slate of major economic nominees on Nov. 30, of which Yellen, Tanden and Adeyemo are a part. They will require Senate confirmation once officially nominated after Biden’s inauguration.

Kerry graduated from Yale College in 1966 and is currently a distinguished fellow for global affairs at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. He was the Democratic nominee in the 2004 presidential election and served as President Barack Obama’s secretary of state from 2013 to 2017.

As secretary of state, Kerry helped broker the Paris Agreement on climate change. Now, he will serve as the first ever climate envoy — a position on the National Security Council meant to ensure that “climate change is on the agenda in the situation room,” according to Biden’s official remarks.

“No country alone can solve this challenge,” Kerry said about climate change in a speech following the announcement of his nomination. “To end this crisis, the whole world must come together … all nations must raise ambition together, or we will all fail together. And failure is not an option.”

Sullivan graduated from Yale College in 1998 and Yale Law School in 2003. As a student at Yale, he held prominent positions at the News and the Yale Law Journal. In recent years, he has served as a visiting lecturer at the Law School.

Before working as the national security advisor for then-Vice President Biden, Sullivan served as the deputy chief of staff for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He will now enter the administration as Biden’s top advisor on all national security issues.

“President-elect Biden taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government,” Sullivan said in a statement on Twitter following his appointment. “Now, he has asked me to serve as his National Security Advisor. In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”

Yellen received a doctorate in economics from Yale in 1971 and was the only woman in her graduating class of 24. Her nomination for treasury secretary comes after a four-year stint as the chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, during a period of strong economic growth.

She was the first woman to head the Fed, and if confirmed, would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department.

“We face great challenges as a country right now,” Yellen wrote in a statement on Twitter. “To recover, we must restore the American dream—a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children. As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Tanden and Adeyemo both graduated from Yale Law School, in 1996 and 2009 respectively. Tanden, if confirmed, will head the Office of Management and Budget, which develops the president’s budget and oversees “the implementation of his vision across the Executive Branch,” according to the White House website. Tanden currently serves as the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

Adeyemo currently heads the Obama Foundation and worked as deputy director of the National Economic Council and deputy national security advisor during the Obama administration.

Both appointments break historic barriers — should she be confirmed, Tanden will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB, and should he be confirmed, Adeyemo will be the first Black Deputy Secretary of Treasury.

Biden will take office on Jan. 20, and he is expected to announce all cabinet appointees before then.

Amelia Davidson | amelia.davidson@yale.edu

AMELIA DAVIDSON
Amelia Davidson currently covers admissions, financial aid and alumni as a staff reporter. She previously covered the Yale College Council. Originally from the Washington D.C. area, she is a sophomore in Pauli Murray College majoring in American studies and economics.