Ursula von der Leyen rose to prominence as a politician in Germany. She was a close ally of longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Von der Leyen was considered to be a top contender to succeed Merkel as chancellor or to become the country's president.

As it would turn out, she would be elected as a president, but it wouldn't be of Germany. Instead, it would be the European Union's executive branch, the European Commission. She is also evidently under consideration for the leadership of another massive international organization.

Secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Ursula von der Leyen is in the running to be chosen as the next NATO secretary general, reports The Sun, citing a diplomatic source. The largest military alliance in the world, NATO currently consists of 29 European countries and two from North America.

The current secretary general is Jens Stoltenberg, whose term is slated to expire later this year. Stoltenberg was previously the prime minister of Norway. His family includes other noted figures in political and military history.

The European Commission has downplayed the speculation around its president possibly going to NATO. But the buzz surrounding her has continued to swirl.

Her ties to the United States could be considered an asset in the selection process.

As indicated by Politico, Von der Leyen has a strong relationship with influential U.S. officials. She is a descendant of American ancestors. Many of whom were considerable figures in the early colonization and political history of America. She herself also lived in the country for several years. In addition, her husband also taught in the U.S.

at Stanford University. The input of the United States is considered a critical piece in the selection of a NATO secretary general.

Hers is not the only name being mentioned as a possible next secretary general, however. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is among those who've been discussed. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is considered a candidate.

Current European prime ministers being mentioned included the Netherlands' Mark Rutte and Estonia's Kaja Kallas. Active presidents who've been mentioned include Slovakia's Zuzana Caputova and Romania's Klaus Iohannis.

Held multiple Cabinet roles under Merkel

Ursula von der Leyen became a member of the Landtag, or Parliament, of Lower Saxony in 2003. For nearly the entirety of her time in the legislature, she served in the Cabinet of Premier Christian Wulff, who later became the president of Germany.

In 2005, Angela Merkel appointed her as minister of family, senior citizens, women and youth. Four years later, von der Leyen was elected to the Bundestag. In addition, Merkel moved her to the post of labour and social affairs.

In 2010, von der Leyen was selected as the deputy leader of the Christian Democratic Union. Later, Merkel named her as the Germany's minister of defence in 2013.

The European Parliament voted von der Leyen as the European Commission president in 2019. She succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker, who was previously the prime minister of Luxembourg.

Is a medical doctor by trade

With the maiden name Albrecht, she is a native of Ixelles, Belgium, near Brussels. Her father, Ernst, later became a major figure in German and European politics. Including serving as president of the Bundesrat and premier of Lower Saxony.

While a student at the University of Gottingen, a plot to kidnap Ursula was discovered. She was evacuated to London, England and was given a Scotland Yard protection detail.

While there, the young Albrecht enrolled at the London School of Economics. She eventually returned to Germany, but would be kept under surveillance for safety for quite some time.

In 1987, she graduated from Hannover Medical School and the following year married her husband, Heiko. They would have seven children.