Officially In: Kenneth Merten to Croatia

On February 10, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Kenneth Merten to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Kenneth Merten currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti.  Prior to serving as Ambassador in Haiti, he was the Deputy Executive Secretary at the Department of State.  A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Merten joined the Foreign Service in 1987.  His previous overseas assignments have included Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Economic Section Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Economic Officer at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Economic Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn, Germany, and Vice Consul in Port-au-Prince.  Ambassador Merten’s Washington assignments have included two tours in the State Department Operations Center, Executive Assistant in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and Cuba Desk Officer.

Ambassador Merten holds a B.A. from Miami University in Ohio, an M.P.A. from American University, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Miami University.

His bio indicates that Ambassador Merten spent about two thirds of his previous assignments overseas, in two regional bureaus: EUR (France, Brussels, Germany) and WHA (three tours in Haiti) with about a third of the time spent in Foggy Bottom (two tours in the Ops Center, plus an EA, a desk job and as Deputy Executive Secretary).  Haiti is a 5% danger post, a 25% COLA, and a 30% hardship differential post.

He most recently supervised the United States Government’s relief efforts after the catastrophic Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010.  In May of 2010, Ambassador Merten was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Miami University.  Ambassador Merten was born in St. Louis, Missouri and considers Hudson, Ohio his hometown.  He is married to Susan Greenman Merten and has two children.

From left to right: Former President Jimmy Carter, Mrs. Merten, Mrs. Carter and Ambassador Merten, during the launching of the drug treatment campaign against Lymphatic Filariasis at the Ambassador’s residence. Photo from US Embassy Haiti/FB

If confirmed, Ambassador Merten would succeed career diplomat, James B. Foley, who was appointed to the US Embassy in Zagreb in 2009. Embassy Zagreb was opened Aug 25, 1992, with Ronald Nietzke as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim. The only non-career appointee ever to serve there was Peter W. Galbraith of Vermont who was US Ambassador from June 1993-Jannuary 1998.

Domani Spero

Updated to clarify previous assignments and hardship assignment information.


Related item:

February 10, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

4 responses

  1. You’re welcome. Sorry to have sharp-shot you on this one; there are enough high-flying fast-burners with odd (for FSOs) career patterns centered around DC and cushy European assignments that when they’re spotted they should be remarked upon. Just as, if that’s not the case, they ought not be tarred with that particular brush. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks CAA, not meant to be misleading, just hurriedly written. It looks like he spent about 9 years in EUR, 8 years in WHA all of them in Haiti, then possibly 8 years in Foggy Bottom (including a stint as Deputy Exec Secretary). Corrected in the blog post for clarification,

  3. This line seems somewhat misleading:

    “His bio indicates that Ambassador Merten spent most of his previous assignments in the U.S. (two tours in the Ops Center, plus an EA and desk jobs), then in EUR (France, Brussels, Germany) and WHA (three tours in Haiti).”

    In other words, Amb. Merten spent most of his previous assignments overseas (France, Brussels, Germany, and _three_ tours in Haiti makes at least _six_ assignments abroad) and only _four_ in the U.S.

    Factor in likely tour lengths (overseas assignments are usually three years), OPS tours are usually only _one_ year, and other domestic assignments are typically only _two_ years in length.

    So it would quite likely Amb. Merten has spent about two-thirds of his FS career overseas, which is the average for most FSOs.