Former Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Interior on Inauguration Day. Obama has said the Interior secretary will play a "critical role" in working with energy and environmental appointees on energy independence. Salazar, formerly a farmer, was elected as a senator in November 2004 after serving as attorney general for six years. His political portfolio also includes a stint on the staff of Gov. Roy Romer as chief legal counsel and executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Salazar's older brother, John, was elected to Congress at the same time as his brother.
Lisa Jackson will serve as Obama's EPA administrator. She will be the first African-American to head the agency. Jackson was appointed as chief of staff to New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine in October. She began serving in that job Dec. 1, serving in the governor's office for less than two months before moving to the EPA. Jackson was commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for two years before working in Corzine's office.
Obama announced retired Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki for secretary of Veterans Affairs on Dec. 7. In his former job, Shinseki clashed with the Bush administration about troop levels in Iraq before his retirement. He'll now be tasked with helping those troops make the transition to becoming veterans. Shinseki is the first Asian-American named to Obama's Cabinet. The Senate Veterans Affairs panel held a hearing on Shinseki's nomination of Jan. 14 but did not take a vote on whether to approve him. Instead the full Senate confirmed the nomination by voice vote on Inauguration Day, making Shinseki's new position official.