David Bernhardt grew up in Rifle, Colorado. He is the only person to ever be confirmed by the U. S. Senate to serve as secretary of the Interior, deputy secretary (chief operations officer) and solicitor (chief legal officer) of the Department of the Interior in its 173 year history.
While serving as the 53rd secretary of the Department of the Interior, David led a U.S. cabinet department with an asset portfolio that exceeded $300 billion, a $16 billion annual budget and nearly 70,000 employees.
A creative problem solver, David focused his efforts to further conservation stewardship, expand opportunities for access to hunt and fish on public lands, drive regulatory change and worked to enhance our nation’s energy independence. He led the Trump administration’s effort to enact the Great American Outdoors Act and President Trump tasked him with playing a key role on initiatives such as addressing the threat to the domestic supply chain from reliance on critical minerals from foreign adversaries and serving as co-chair of the One Trillion Trees Interagency Council.
Before serving as secretary, David served as deputy secretary at Interior, where he led many significant initiatives ranging from: creating and implementing policies and practices to address a systemic culture of harassment in the workplace; modernizing business processes related to permitting authorizations and denials; dramatically improving the ethics program; and developing one of the most diverse leadership teams in the department’s history.
Since leaving the Department, David returned to the practice of law, and is active in various charitable and business endeavors.