Guest blog post by Acting Secretary of Commerce Cameron Kerry.
Earlier this month, I was honored to take the helm at the Department of Commerce as Acting Secretary. Having served as the Department’s General Counsel for the last four years, I have come to know and cherish the exceptional work that the people at Commerce do to promote innovation and economic growth, provide world-class science for the benefit of the American people, and expand our exports and global trade. I’m proud to have been called on to lead this work as Acting Secretary.
While taking the leadership role at the Department of Commerce is a very special point in my career, my tenure as Acting Secretary also marks the first time in U.S. history that two siblings have served together in the President’s cabinet, as the Boston Globe pointed out in a piece this week. My older brother John, of course, is the U.S. Secretary of State.
Siblings throughout history have served in Administrations simultaneously – such as the Dulles brothers, who served as Secretary of State (John Foster Dulles) and CIA Director (Allen Dulles) during the Dwight D. Eisenhower Administration. But never before have two brothers served in the Cabinet – which includes the Vice President and the heads of 15 executive departments – at the same time.
John and I haven’t had much opportunity to interact over these last few weeks, as his travel schedule keeps him pretty busy. At last count (June 19), he’d spent a total of 55 days on the road and visited 24 countries. So it was a pleasure to have him stop by the Department of Commerce today for breakfast – of course, he brought Massachusetts’ own Dunkin’ Donuts.
Our family has a strong tradition of public service – our father, Richard, served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, as Assistant U.S. Attorney, as General Counsel for the Navy Department, and as a Foreign Service Officer. Growing up, public policy issues were part of our dinner table conversation, and I was a news junkie by the time I was 8 or 9. But while we may both have been destined for careers in public service, I don’t think that John and I ever imagined doing a stint in the cabinet together.
A lot of the conversations I have with John are less about politics and public policy, and more about family. But there are some very natural intersections between the Departments of Commerce and State, particularly because both agencies are actively engaged in our trade and economic relationships abroad. Commerce’s foreign commercial service officers are stationed alongside State Department employees in more than 75 countries, where they work each and every day to assist U.S. companies in doing business abroad and promote U.S. economic interests overseas.
For however long I am Acting Secretary, I will continue to give every bit of my energy and engagement to supporting the mission of the Department of Commerce.