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.
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.
Updated to clarify previous assignments and hardship assignment information.
- Two Years After Quake, Haiti Remains in Distress – Wall Street Journal (wallstreetjournal.de)
- Haiti: Where the Earthquake Money Did and Did Not Go (alternet.org)