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Members of the Biden Administration That Have Called California Home

Biden has appointed several Californians to key jobs in his administration to help secure the homeland, preserve healthcare, boost the economy and improve education.
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California and its 55 blue electoral votes might not have been all that popular during the Trump administration. But President Joseph Biden has decided the state's 40 million residents, and a few who chose to make it home for parts of their lives, have plenty to offer the country.

Biden has appointed several Californians to key jobs in his administration to help secure the homeland, preserve healthcare, boost the economy and improve education. Beyond his vice president—former Sen. Kamala Harris—the list includes a Nobel Prize winner, a school superintendent, a few UC Berkeley grads and professors, and a prosecutor who convicted a Hollywood madam.

Here's a look at some of those from the Golden State who will assist the new president.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California.
Attorney General Xavier Becerra speaking with attendees at the 2019 California Democratic Party State Convention at the George R. Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, California | Gage Skidmore

Xavier Becerra

Nominated to become Biden's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Becerra will play a key role in combating COVID-19 and preserving and improving the Affordable Care Act. He spent 12 terms representing Los Angeles in Congress before California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed him to be the state's Attorney General in 2017. He became the first Latino to hold that post.

In Congress, I helped pass the Affordable Care Act. As California's Attorney General, I defended it. As Secretary of Health and Human Services, I will build on our progress and ensure every American has access to quality, affordable health care—through this pandemic and beyond.

Born in Sacramento, Becerra, 62, has spent most of his life in law and public service, starting his legal career representing the mentally ill. The son of an immigrant mother from Mexico, Becerra became the first in his family to earn a four-year college degree when he graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor's degree in economics. He then obtained his law degree at Stanford.

Becerra served one term as an assemblymember for Los Angeles County's 59th District, worked as a Deputy Attorney General with California's Justice Department, and was elected to Congress to represent a large swath of Los Angeles in 1992.

In the House of Representatives, Becerra served on the Ways and Means Committee and chaired the House Democratic Caucus.

As Attorney General, Becerra sued the Trump Administration more than 100 times on issues including the environment, immigration and health care, including Trump's efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. He led an effort by several Attorneys General to prevent a Republican-led effort to eliminate Obamacare.

Janet Yellen
Chair Yellen delivers the opening statement at the FOMC press conference. | Federal Reserve Board of Governors

Janet Yellen

Yellen is the first woman to be nominated secretary of the Treasury. From 1980 to 1994, she conducted research and taught macroeconomics to thousands of students at UC Berkeley before becoming a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton named her the head of his Council of Economic Advisers. In 2004, she served as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco until 2010, when she became vice-chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Obama named her to head the Federal Reserve System in 2013.

Listening to others, especially those with whom we disagree, tests our own ideas and beliefs. It forces us to recognize, with humility, that we don't have a monopoly on the truth.

A native of Brooklyn, Yellen, 74, was the daughter of an elementary school teacher and a doctor. She studied economics at Brown University in Rhode Island and later obtained a Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.

Following her role as Fed chair, which ended in 2018, Yellen served as a distinguished fellow at the Brookings Institute.

Alejandro Mayorkas
Alejandro Mayorkas at the World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit 2016 | World Travel & Tourism Council

Alejandro Mayorkas

Once the top federal prosecutor in Los Angeles, Mayorkas was nominated to head Biden's Department of Homeland Security, where he formerly served as deputy secretary during the Obama administration.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Mayorkas' family brought him to Southern California as a baby. A graduate of Beverly Hills High School, he went on to UC Berkeley and received his law degree at Loyola Law School.

I'm very proud of my identity, I'm very proud of my heritage, I'm very proud of my parents, and most of all, I'm proud to be a United States citizen. As Secretary of Homeland Security, I hope I can represent for others the opportunities that America provides to everyone.

A prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, his most notable case was likely convicting Heidi Fleiss, the "Hollywood Madam" accused of operating a multi-million dollar prostitution business in the 1980s and 90s. Later, when he headed the Los Angeles office as U.S. Attorney, Mayorkas supervised cases against the Mexican Mafia, the 18th Street gang and Bufford Furrow, a white supremacist who opened fire in the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills in 1999, wounding three children and two adults, and killing a postal carrier.

Mayorkas, 61, served as deputy DHS secretary and as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the Obama administration. Among his jobs were implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), combatting human trafficking and leading a response to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks.

Cecilia Elena Rouse
Cecilia Rouse appointed to lead the Council of Economic Advisors speaks at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on December 1, 2020. | Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Cecilia Elena Rouse

A native of Del Mar, Rouse, 57, was nominated to become Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. Currently, the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, the professor comes from a family of apparent brilliance. Her father, a research physicist, received a doctorate from Caltech in 1956. Rouse's mother was a school psychologist, her brother is a physicist, and her sister is an anthropology professor at Princeton.

Now, Rouse—a Harvard University graduate—will play a significant role in restoring America's economy.

A labor economist focusing on the economics of education, Rouse founded the Princeton Education Research Section and is senior editor of The Future of Children, a policy journal published by the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the Brookings Institution. She serves on several economic panels.

During the Obama administration, she served as a member of his Council of Economic Advisers. She previously worked in the Clinton administration at the National Economic Council as a Special Assistant to the President.

Rouse has written papers on issues including the economic benefit of community college attendance, sex discrimination in symphony orchestras, the impact of private school vouchers in Milwaukee and the effects of student loan debt on college graduates' career choices.

She will become the first Black official to head her office.

Isabel Guzman
California official Isabel Guzman, nominee for Small Business Administrator, speaks after being nominated by US President-elect Joe Biden at The Queen theater on January 8, 2021 in Wilmington, Delaware. | JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Isabel Casillas Guzman

Born in Burbank, the 49-year-old was a La Crescenta resident when Newsom appointed her in 2019 as Director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development. Biden has selected her to go national and run the Small Business Administration.

According to her LinkedIn page, Guzman has 20 years of experience "advising entrepreneurs, launching ventures, helping small businesses navigate the federal government, and creating policies and programs to help advance entrepreneurship and innovation."

We have to build our economy back better from this pandemic. Small businesses and their employees will be core to our recovery and I will work around the clock to help them re-open and thrive.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor's degree at the Wharton School of Business, she previously served as deputy chief of staff at the organization she will now lead. Her resume includes serving as an appointments deputy secretary for former Governor Gray Davis, director of strategic initiatives at ProAmerica Bank and she co-founded two businesses.

Frances Arnold
US biochemical engineer Frances Arnold poses after she received the Millennium Technology Prize 2016 in Helsinki, Finland, on May 24, 2016. Arnold won the million-euro technology prize for her work on "directed evolution". | HEIKKI SAUKKOMAA/AFP via Getty Images

Frances H. Arnold

A professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Arnold will serve as co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Arnold won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for "the directed evolution of enzymes." According to Caltech and its very scientific explanation, her research is used to produce enzymes that can replace toxic chemicals in everything from biofuels to laundry soap.

My entire career, I have been concerned about the damage we are doing to the planet and each other. Science and technology can play a major role in mitigating our negative influences on the environment.

Born in Pittsburgh, the 64-year-old professor received an undergraduate degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University in New Jersey. She received her graduate degree in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley.

Arnold began teaching at Caltech in 1986 and rose through the ranks to become a Linus Pauling Professor in 2017. Arnold holds numerous honors and positions in organizations in her field around the world.

Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo

Born in Nigeria, raised in Southern California, and educated at UC Berkeley, Adeyemo was picked to serve as deputy Treasury secretary. He will work for Janet Yellen, a former UC Berkeley professor, chosen for Treasury secretary.

Public service is about offering hope through the dark times and making sure that our economy works not just for the wealthy, but for the hard-working people who make it run.

Adeyemo, 39, who lives in Hyde Park, has worked as the Obama Foundation's first president since August 2019. During President Barack Obama's administration, Adeyemo served in several positions, including as the National Economic Council deputy director; the assistant secretary for international markets and development at the Treasury Department; deputy chief of staff of the Treasury Department; and chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. When Obama left office in 2017, Adeyemo worked as a senior adviser at the investment firm BlackRock and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Adeyemo, who holds a law degree from Yale University in Connecticut, will be the Treasury's first Black deputy secretary.

KPBS Evening Edition: Biden Nominates San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten for Deputy Education Secretary.
Biden Nominates San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten for Deputy Education Secretary

Cindy Marten

Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District since 2013, Marten was selected to serve as Deputy Secretary of Education. She will be second in command to Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's commissioner of education, nominated to be Biden's education secretary.

During her 32-year career in education, Marten has worked as a classroom teacher, literary specialist, vice-principal and principal. She credits the Girl Scouts for teaching her leadership skills.

I am honored to serve alongside [Cardona] to restore our education system—putting teachers, students, and parents first. Work Hard. Be Kind. Dream Big. Let's do this!

As superintendent, she implemented a plan that resulted in San Diego achieving the highest graduation rate among large school districts in California. Under her leadership, Marten emphasized qualified, experienced teaching, health and wellness programs and combining academics with social and emotional learning.

Marten, 51, earned her teaching credential at the University of Wisconsin at LaCross, and her master's degree in teaching and learning at UC San Diego, where she received the Distinguished Alumni Award.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez
Julie Chavez Rodriguez | White House Photo Office

Julie Chavez Rodriguez

Appointed director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Rodriguez is the granddaughter of legendary civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, a bust of whom is on display in Biden's Oval Office.

She served as a senior adviser on Biden's campaign.

Born in Delano and raised in California's Central Valley, Rodriguez, 41, took part in boycotts and passed out fliers when she was in grammar school. A UC Berkeley graduate, Rodriguez worked for California Sen. Kamala Harris as state director, overseeing Harris' office's operations, then on Harris' presidential campaign as co-national political director. Before that, Rodriguez served as a special assistant and senior deputy director of public engagement for President Obama. She supervised engagement with LGBTQ, Latino, veteran, youth education, labor and progressive leaders in that job.

Her job involved working on immigration, veterans services, and access to health care. She also worked for Obama's National Security Council on efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

Now, she joins Harris working for Biden.

In her lengthy resume, she also served as program director for the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation in Los Angeles. Rodriguez's grandfather, Chavez, is renowned for his work on behalf of farmworkers and formed what became the United Farm Workers.

For Biden, Rodriguez will work to improve health care, the economy, immigration and the environment.

"It's not going to be easy," she told NBC. "I don't go into any of this with rose-colored glasses."

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