On May 17 President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell as the next ambassador to the Union of Burma. The WH released the following bio:
Ambassador Derek J. Mitchell is Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, with the rank of Ambassador, having been appointed by President Obama in August 2011. Previously, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. Before joining the Administration in 2009, Ambassador Mitchell served as Senior Fellow and Director for Asia in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He concurrently served as founding Director of the CSIS Southeast Asia Initiative, which was inaugurated in 2008. From 1997 to 2001, Ambassador Mitchell was Special Assistant for Asian and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During this time, his roles included Senior Country Director for China, Taiwan, Mongolia, and Hong Kong (2000-2001), Director for Regional Security Affairs (1998-2000), Senior Country Director for the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore (1998-1999), and Country Director for Japan (1997-1998). Before joining the Department of Defense, he worked at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs as Senior Program Officer for Asia and the Former Soviet Union (1996-1997), and as Program Officer for Asia (1993-1996). He began his career as Assistant to the Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Ambassador Mitchell received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
The last Senate-confirmed Ambassador to Burma was career diplomat, Burton Levin who served from 1987-1990. No ambassador was appointed to replace Levin, and there has been no U.S. ambassador in Burma since then.
More than a half dozen chargé d’affaires have been appointed head of mission in Rangoon since then:
- Franklin P. Huddle, Jr. (September 1990–September 1994) – later became Ambassador to Tajikistan
- Marilyn Meyers (September 1994–October 1996)
- Kent M. Wiedemann (October 1996–May 1999) – later became Ambassador to Cambodia
- Priscilla A. Clapp (July 1999–August 2002)
- Carmen Maria Martinez (August 2002–August 2005) – later became Ambassador to Zambia in 2005-2008
- Shari Villarosa (August 2005–September 2008) – officially nominated as Ambassador to Port Louis and The Seychelles in November 2011, nomination currently stuck in Senate.
- Larry M. Dinger (September 2008–August 2011) – previously U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Fiji Islands, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu from July 2005 to June 2008 and U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (2002–2004)
- Michael Thurston (August 2011–present) – previously Consul General at USCG Melbourne, Australia (2008-2011) and prior to that he was the Team Leader of PRT Diyala, Iraq (2007-2008).
- Barack Obama appoints Derek Mitchell as first US ambassador to Burma (guardian.co.uk)
- Burma rewarded for political reforms as US names Derek Mitchell ambassador (guardian.co.uk)
- US Eases Sanctions on Burma, Appoints Ambassador (irrawaddy.org)
- US eases Burma sanctions (abc.net.au)