Posted: 4:56 am ET
On September 2, President Trump announced his intent to nominate career diplomat Erik Whitaker to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Niger. The WH released the following brief bio:
Eric P. Whitaker of Illinois to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Niger. Mr. Whitaker, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, has served as an American diplomat since 1990. He is currently the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa and the Sudans in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State. A two-time Deputy Chief of Mission overseas and a senior official at the Department of State at home and abroad, his diplomatic career has been diverse, and included consular, economic, commercial, political, and refugee assignments. He has served at U.S. embassies in ten African countries and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines. Mr. Whitaker earned an M.P.P. from Princeton University, an M.P.A from the University of Pittsburgh, and an M.S. and B.S. from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, Visayan, and Korean.
The State Department has a more detailed bio via state.gov:
Eric P. Whitaker joined the Bureau of African Affairs Front Office as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary in January 2017 with East African Affairs, Sudan, and South Sudan. His previous position was Director of East African Affairs.
Born in DeKalb, Illinois, he attended the University of Illinois, where he earned a BS in general biology and an MS in community health education. Eric thereafter earned a Master of Public Administration degree at the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Public Policy degree at the Wilson School at Princeton University while serving as a Weinberg Fellow. Prior to entering the Foreign Service, he served as a Community Health Development Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines and as Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Lodi, California.
As a Foreign Service Officer, Eric has held several positions: Consular Officer – Seoul, Korea; Refugee Affairs Coordinator – Khartoum, Sudan; Kampala, Uganda; and Zagreb, Croatia; Economic/Commercial Officer – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Political/Economic Chief – Bamako, Mali, and Maputo, Mozambique; Trade Policy Officer – Bureau for Economic and Business Affairs; and Political/Economic Counselor – Khartoum, Sudan.
Eric also served a tour of duty as an Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team (E-PRT) Leader in Baghdad, Iraq, heading an eight-member team composed of State, USAID, and DoD civilians. Covering the districts of Karada, Rusafa, and Tissa Nissan, the E-PRT supported local governance, economic growth and development, essential public services and infrastructure, and community reconciliation. In August 2008, he departed for Niamey, Niger, where he served as Deputy Chief of Mission and then as Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy. In October 2010, he commenced service as Counselor for Economic Affairs at Embassy Nairobi, Kenya, our largest diplomatic post in sub-Saharan Africa. Thereafter he served as Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) at Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Djibouti on Camp Lemonnier. Finally, from October 2012-2014, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy N’Djamena, Chad, before returning to the Department of State.
Eric speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French, Visayan, and Korean, and has received eleven Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as the Department of Defense Meritorious Civilian Honor Award.