With official word from the White House, Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is the nominee to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Pending confirmation by the Senate, Lynch, 55, she will become the first African-American woman to be named U.S. attorney general.
Described as a low-profile prosecutor, she appeared to be under most people’s radars, but she’s no stranger to Washington, D.C. As chairwoman of the Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys, which provides policy advice to the attorney general, Lynch was required to spend time in Washington, D.C., where she worked closely with Holder.
Here are five other things you should know about the next chief of the Department of Justice.
1. She has brains and experience.
Lynch, who was born and raised in Greensboro, N.C., received her bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard. Before becoming the lead prosecutor for the Eastern District of New York, she first came to the district’s office in 1990 as a staff attorney, where she prosecuted drug and violent crime cases.
2. She supervised one of the most infamous cases of police brutality.
As the chief assistant U.S. attorney, Lynch oversaw the successful prosecution of white New York City police Officer Justin Volpe for sodomizing Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in 1997. Much like the Rodney King beating case, the Louima case made national headlines and became a symbol of police brutality.
3. This is her second stint as U.S. attorney.
She was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1999 and served until 2001 before leaving to become a partner in a private practice. She returned to the office in 2010, when she was nominated by President Obama.
4. She’ll bring some national-security bonafides to the table.
The office of the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York—one of the nation’s busiest districts—handles federal prosecutions for Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in New York City and for Long Island. Because of the number of terrorism cases it oversees, the office is renowned for its national-security expertise. Her office recently won convictions in a foiled al-Qaida-sanctioned plot to blow up New York City subways. These skills will be critical, since the next attorney general will likely take over counterterror initiatives targeting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants.
5. As a child, she had a front-row seat to one of the key civil rights movements.
According to NPR, when Lynch was a toddler, her father—a minister—opened his church to the students from North Carolina A&T State University who organized the lunch counter sit-ins at Woolworth in Greensboro, N.C., in 1960. According to Lynch, her father carried her to those meetings, “riding on his shoulders.”