Officially In: Ambassador Pat Butenis to Colombo

On May 27, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Patricia A. Butenis, to be Ambassador to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives.

Ms. Butenis has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq since July 2007. Prior to this assignment, she served as Ambassador to Bangladesh, a position for which she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 16, 2006, and sworn in on March 17, 2006. She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister-Counselor.

Ms. Butenis was previously Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan (2004-2006), serving with Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Ms. Butenis joined the Foreign Service in 1980. She has served as Vice Consul in Karachi, Pakistan (1980-1982); Vice Consul/Political Officer in San Salvador, El Salvador (1982-1985); Consul in New Delhi, India (1985-1988); El Salvador Desk Officer (1988-1990); and Consul (American Citizen Services Chief) in Bogotá, Colombia (1990-1993). She attended the National War College (1993-1994) and also served at the Visa Office, Field Liaison, in the Department of State (1994-1997). She then served as Consul General in Warsaw, Poland (1998-2001) and Consul General in Bogotá, Colombia (2001-2004). Ms. Butenis received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in International Relations from Columbia University.

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If confirmed, Ambassador Butenis will be based in Colombo. She will succeed Ambassador Robert O. Blake, a career diplomat who was recently appointed to head the South Central Asia (SCA) Bureau. says that “Butenis has not given contributions greater than $200 since 1989.”

As a side note, all US ambassadors assigned to Sri Lanka in the last 20 years have been career diplomats. The last non-career political appointee assigned to Colombo (and the Maldives) was John Hathaway Reed who served there twice from 1982-85 and from 1976-77.

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