— By Domani Spero
In May this year, a group of 51 retired senior foreign affairs professionals including 37 former ambassadors wrote a letter to the Secretary of State urging that ”a career foreign affairs professional be appointed as the next Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. See 37 Former Ambassadors Urge Appointment of a Career Diplomat to State Dept’s Public Diplomacy Bureau. Well, that didn’t work.
Yesterday, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Richard Stengel for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. The WH released the following brief bio:
Richard Stengel is the Managing Editor of Time Magazine, a position he has held since 2006. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Stengel was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. In 2000, Mr. Stengel served as a Senior Adviser and Chief Speechwriter for Bill Bradley’s Presidential campaign. In 1999, Mr. Stengel was the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton. From 1992 to 1994, Mr. Stengel worked with Nelson Mandela on his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Mr. Stengel has written for many publications and is the author of several books. He began his career at TIME in 1981 as a writer and correspondent. He received a B.A. from Princeton University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church at the University of Oxford.
If confirmed, Mr. Stengel would succeed Tara D. Sonenshine, and would be the 8th Under Secretary for the “R” bureau since its creation in 1999. No career-diplomat to-date has ever been nominated for this position.
- Evelyn Simonowitz Lieberman (1999-2001)
- Charlotte L. Beers (2001-2003)
- Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler (2003-2004)
- Karen P. Hughes (2005-2007)
- James K. Glassman (2008-2009)
- Judith A. McHale (2009-2011)
- Tara D. Sonenshine (2012-2013)
A useful read would be Mountainrunner’s: R we there yet? A look at the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy (and Public Affairs). The average tenure in this position is just 512 days with Karen Hughes serving the longest at 868 days. Below is the Incumbency Chart for the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from a 2011 report by the United States Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.
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