Gale Norton brought considerable legal experience to her tenure as secretary of the Interior. She had previously been an assistant to the deputy secretary of Agriculture, a senior attorney for the Mountain States Legal Foundation, associate solicitor for the Department of the Interior, a two-term attorney general for Colorado and senior counsel for a Denver-based law firm. With her appointment to President Bush's Cabinet in 2001, Norton became the first woman to lead the Department of the Interior. In accordance with Bush's agenda—heightened by the September 11 attacks and the War on Terror—Secretary Norton focused on energy independence. She prioritized opening federal lands for expanded energy production, backing the commercial development of oil shale reserves and increasing coal and natural gas production. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, she played a leading role in restoring offshore energy production. Norton governed by what she referred to as "the Four C’s"—Consultation, Communication, and Cooperation, all in the service of Conservation—believing that for conservation to succeed, government must involve the people who live and work on the land. This tenet was a cornerstone in issues ranging from the Klamath River Basin controversy and the Healthy Forest Initiative to the resurrection of the "Take Pride in America" campaign from Secretary Hodel's era. After her resignation from Interior during Bush's second term, Norton joined Royal Dutch Shell's global legal leadership team. She has subsequently been an advisor for an energy technology venture capital firm and a consultant on environmental regulations.
The backdrop in this portrait is an undisclosed location in the Colorado Rockies. Artist William Whittingham hand-carved the frame and added gold leaf to complement the tones depicted in Norton's jacket. The painting was unveiled at a ceremony at the Department in 2006.