A Look at 7 New Influential Presidential Cabinet Members

Image of White House
Updated 8-4-17

A Look at 7 New Influential Presidential Cabinet Members

The Cabinet of the United States consists of members of the executive branch who lead administrative departments and advise the president on many issues. Article II of the Constitution states the President may require opinions, in writing, on any subject related to each executive’s department. All U.S. presidents have utilized the expertise and intelligence of experienced individuals when making executive decisions. The roles and functions of the Cabinet have evolved over time, with each president making adjustments to fit their administration. The following are five of the twenty-four Cabinet members holding key positions under President Donald Trump.

Ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki R. Haley

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations acts as our “permanent representative” to the United Nations Security Council. In leading the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, it is the main responsibility of the ambassador to inform the U.S. State Department on all events at the United Nations and represent the country’s interests. This position works closely with the president, making recommendations on the United States’ course of action in response to world issues.

Nikki Haley was born in Bamberg, South Carolina to parents who emigrated from India. She graduated from Clemson University and in 2004 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives where she served for six years. As Governor of South Carolina she made an impact on the state’s economy by lowering the unemployment rate significantly. While visiting foreign countries, such as India, France, Germany and Japan, she recruited jobs and secured investment for South Carolina.

Defense Secretary: General James N. Mattis

The Secretary of Defense directs the president in all matters concerning the Department of Defense. He has authority and control over all military forces, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, with the main objectives being to deter war and protect the country.

General James N. Mattis is a four-star Marine Corps general with 44 years of military experience. From 2010 to 2013 he was the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), led forces in Afghanistan and Iraq after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and created the field manual on battling Iraqi counterinsurgents with General David Petraeus. President Trump has referred to James Mattis as “the closest thing we have to General George Patton.”

Homeland Security Secretary: Elaine C. Duke

The Secretary of Homeland Security position was created as part of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 among actions in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001. As head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the main concern of this position is to keep the nation and its citizens safe and secure. It is the third largest department in the U.S. government, made up of multiple components including FEMA, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Coast Guard, Secret Service, and TSA. The secretary advises the president on all matters concerning counterterrorism, border security, administration and enforcement of immigration laws, biological and nuclear threats, and disaster response.

Elaine Duke has served in the federal government as a civil servant and leader for nearly three decades. Her expertise lies in the operational aspects of bureaucracy with extensive experience in government acquisition and business management. She served as Under Secretary for Management in Homeland Security from 2008 to 2010 and, prior to being appointed Acting Security, provided business consulting services to large and small companies as principal of Elaine Duke & Associates, LLC. Throughout her years of dedicated service she has received multiple honors including the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award, the Department of the Army Commander’s Award for Public Service and the DHS Secretary’s Medal.

CIA Director: Mike Pompeo

The Central Intelligence Agency is responsible for gathering and analyzing intelligence information regarding national security from around the world. The Director of the CIA (D/CIA) is the head of the CIA and is responsible for managing personnel, budget and operations, managing the National Human Source Intelligence (HUMINT), and reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

Mike Pompeo served four terms as U.S. Representative for Kansas’ 4th District and served on both the House Intelligence Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee before being sworn in as Director of the CIA. A West Point and Harvard Law School graduate, he founded Thayer Aerospace and served as CEO for over a decade. His duties as CIA Director include managing intelligence collection, counterintelligence, covert action, analysis, and liaison relationships with foreign intelligence agencies.

Chief of Staff: John F. Kelly

The White House Chief of Staff is a high-ranking position in the Cabinet with a wide range of duties centered on serving the president. The chief of staff supervises the entire Executive Office of the President, everyone from residence staff to senior advisers. While the duties often vary depending on the presidency and special abilities of the Chief of Staff, he or she assists the president with strategy, carrying out the executive vision, and controlling access to the president.

John F. Kelly is a retired Marine Corps general with over 40 years of experience in the Marine Corps. He rose through the ranks fighting in Iraq starting in 2001 and became Lieutenant General of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from 2009 to 2011. In the following year, he became commander of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which he held for four years, working closely with members of the U.S. law enforcement, FBI and DEA in South and Central America, Guantanamo Bay, and Cuba. Among his many responsibilities, Secretary Kelly will be responsible for carrying out President Trump’s decisions regarding immigration, deportation, and the border control.

Secretary of Transportation: Elaine L. Chao

The U.S. Department of Transportation is a Cabinet department established on October 15, 1966 by an act of Congress with the mission of creating and maintaining a national transportation system that is “fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient”. As head of the department, the Secretary of Transportation is responsible for ensuring that the transportation needs of the country and its citizens are continually met. The Secretary also oversees eleven organizations, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Maritime Administration.

Elaine Chao became the first Asian American woman to serve in a President’s Cabinet when she was appointed the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor by President George W. Bush, a position she held from 2001 to 2009. Secretary Chao immigrated to America at age eight unable to speak English, received her citizenship at age nineteen and went to earn an MBA from Harvard Business School. Her many career accomplishments serving in private, public and nonprofit sectors include stints as CEO of United Way of America, Director of the Peace Corps, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission and serving as a White House Fellow. She brings her extensive transportation expertise and government experience to her second Cabinet position as Secretary of Transportation.

EPA Administrator: Scott Pruitt

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was created under President Richard Nixon in 1970 with the mission of protecting the health of humans and preserving the environment. The EPA is also designed to reduce environmental risks and protect natural resources, energy sources, agriculture and transportation, among other areas. The Administrator of the EPA is the head of the agency whose responsibilities include upholding and enforcing the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Food Quality Protection Act and other federal environmental legislative acts.

Scott Pruitt was elected the 14th Administrator of the EPA in February 2017. Pruitt practiced constitutional law before serving in the Oklahoma State Senate. In 2010, Pruitt won the position of Attorney General of Oklahoma. During his tenure, he studied the water quality of the Illinois River and eventually worked to secure an historic settlement between Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribal Nations which preserves water rights and the ecosystems of lakes and rivers on native lands.

These Cabinet members have attained the highest levels of Federal public service. For those interested in careers of increasing responsibility in the field of public administration, it is important to understand executive branch functions and the necessity for advisory positions.

Learn More

If you seek to change the world on a local, national, or global level, the University of San Francisco is a great place to start. By learning more about the University of San Francisco Online Master of Public Administration (MPA), you will be taking an important first step toward pursuing your professional goals and commitment to social justice. Our program is designed for professionals who want to become effective managers and civic leaders who affect change through policy management and advocacy.

Recommended Readings

5 Great Places for Government Jobs Outside Washington, D.C.
What is government’s role in advancing social justice?
US Swing States

















call to action
Post a Comment or Question

Leave a Reply

× 9 = sixty three