UPDATED: 12:34 p.m. ET, Feb. 23, 2021 —
The veteran diplomat will take on the high-profile role in the Biden-Harris administration where she will be tasked with restoring America’s position globally.
President-elect Joe Biden is already making good on his vow to have a presidential cabinet that “looks like America” by naming several people to key leadership positions within his upcoming administration. And while he’s being applauded for the racially diverse mix of choices, perhaps none was greeted as warmly as Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was tapped to be the ambassador to the United Nations.
Biden’s announcement also made her the first Black person he selected to add to his cabinet. If her nomination is confirmed, Thomas-Greenfield would become just the second Black woman to ever be ambassador to the United Nations.
Thomas-Greenfield was among five other people who Biden signaled would lead his foreign policy and national security team: Antony Blinken for the U.S. Department of State; Alejandro Mayorkas, a Latino, for the Department of Homeland Security; Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence; Jake Sullivan as National Security Adviser; and John Kerry as special presidential envoy for climate, a new cabinet position.
Thomas-Greenfield tweeted Monday that she was “privileged” and “blessed” to have been selected by Biden.
“I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years,” she tweeted. “As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies. Blessed for this opportunity.”
Her tweet garnered more than 9,000 likes within the first hour that it was posted.
Thomas-Greenfield and the other people named Monday stand in stark contrast to the people Donald Trump nominated to lead his cabinet. She, like the others, has a wealth of experience in the fields of their respective departments.
She is a career diplomat who has held comparably lofty posts in the U.S. government, including serving as ambassador to Liberia, as director-general of the Foreign Service and assistant secretary for African affairs. Much of her time in leadership positions in the State Department was during President Barack Obama‘s administration.
Thomas-Greenfield was all but forced to retire in 2017 after Trump’s first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began scaling back career diplomats at an alarming rate, firing most of the department’s senior African American diplomats in the process.
At the time, Thomas-Greenfield said she felt targeted just because she had valuable experience as a member of the State Department.
“I don’t feel targeted as an African American. I feel targeted as a professional,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
There have already been four Black people to serve as ambassador to the United Nations. If Thomas-Greenfield is confirmed by a Republican-led Senate, she would become only the second Black woman to do so.
Susan Rice, who is reportedly being considered by Biden to lead the State Department, served as the ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013 before she became the national security adviser from 2013-2017.
Now, if Biden can only name a Black person to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services amid a pandemic that has disproportionately affected Black and brown communities across the country…