Former Heads of Department

Simonetta Sommaruga

Simonetta Sommaruga was born on 14 May 1960 and grew up with two brothers and one sister in Sins in the canton of Aargau. Her father was a plant manager and her mother was a homemaker who tended a large vegetable garden. After obtaining her academic baccalaureate, she attended the Lucerne Academy of Music, where she studied to become a concert pianist. Simonetta Sommaruga spent time in California and Rome before continuing her career as a concert pianist and teacher at the Fribourg Academy of Music.

Ms Sommaruga was managing director of the Swiss Consumer Protection Foundation from 1993 to 1999 and president of the foundation from 2000 to 2010. She served as a member of the communal council in Köniz between 1997 and 2005 with responsibility for the fire and civil protection services, and was a member of the National Council between 1999 and 2003.

Between 2003 and 2010, she represented the canton of Bern in the Council of States. She sat on the Economic Affairs and Taxation Committee and served as its chair between 2007 and 2009; she was also on the Social Security and Health Committee, and served as vice chair of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy Committee. She was also vice president of the Swiss Delegation to the EFTA Parliamentary Committee and for relations with the European Parliament.

On 22 September 2010, Simonetta Sommaruga was elected to the Federal Council. She was head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police FDJP from 2010 to the end of 2018. During this time, she effected several far-reaching reforms to modernise Swiss family law.

Simonetta Sommaruga took over as head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications DETEC on 1 January 2019. Already by autumn of that year, she brought the foundations for the Federal Act on a Secure Electricity Supply from Renewable Energy Sources before the Federal Council with a view to strengthening the domestic energy supply. She also secured the agreement of environmental groups, energy providers and the cantons on 15 specific projects at the Hydropower Round Table. Furthermore, she presented a draft to speed up the procedures. These measures have been supplemented by short-term measures to prepare Switzerland for the coming winter.

In the transport sector, Ms Sommaruga has championed the modal shift policy, for example in 2019 with a package to move more freight transport to rail. She also presented the Rail 2050 vision for the future expansion of the Swiss rail network.

She served as President of the Swiss Confederation in 2015 in 2020. She retired as a Federal Councillor at the end of 2022 after 12 years.

Simonetta Sommaruga is married to the writer Lukas Hartmann. In winter, she devotes her free moments to playing the piano and reading. In summer, she loves spending time in her garden and hiking in the mountains.


Doris Leuthard

2018 BDL für Vorwörter

Doris Leuthard was Head of the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) from 2010-2018. Before taking the helm of DETEC on 1 November 2010, Federal Councillor Leuthard was head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs (FDEA) from August 2006 to October 2010. During this time, she was responsible for the labour market, vocational education and training, technology, innovation, agriculture, housing, national economic supply and trade policy. She represented Switzerland at international organisations including the WTO, OECD, FAO and the World Bank and chaired the EFTA Council.

From 1999 to 2006, Doris Leuthard was a member of the National Council representing canton Aargau. From 2004 to 2006, she was president of the Christian Democratic People's Party. During her time in the National Council, she was a member of the following committees: legal affairs, political institutions, judicial, economic affairs and taxation.

Born in 1963, Doris Leuthard studied law at the University of Zurich and completed language and study courses in Paris and Calgary. She was a partner in a law firm. She is married to Dr. Roland Hausin.