Kushner-Connected Businessman Andrew Gellert to be U.S. Ambassador to Chile

Posted: 1:41 am ET


On January 4, the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate prominent American businessman Andrew Gellert to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Chile. The WH released the following brief bio:

Andrew Gellert of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chile. Mr. Gellert, President of Gellert Global Group in Elizabeth, New Jersey, is a prominent American businessman.  He leads an enterprise consisting of many North American food importing companies, including Atalanta Corporation, the largest privately held food importer in the United States.  He has served as Chairman of the Association of Food Industries (AFI), which is part of a coalition of food importing associations pursuing the mutual trade interests of overseas suppliers and United States importers before the FDA, and within the food legislation arena.  In addition, he is a member of the Young Presidents Organization and a Board member of the Elizabeth Development Corporation.  Mr. Gellert earned a B.S. from Cornell University.


A quick search of the Federal Election Commission database indicates modest contributions mostly to Democratic candidates in years past including to Al Gore, Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, even Hillary Clinton in 2003.

Andrew Gellert is listed on his company’s website as: “President of the Gellert Global Group joined Atalanta a year after graduation from Cornell in 1989 and currently serves as Treasurer of Atalanta Corporation and Senior Vice President of Camerican International, where he developed the Company’s successful juice division” (also see Atalanta Corp.: Around the World in 70 Years).

According to its website, the Gellert Global Group is partners in numerous real estate ventures with The Kushner Companies.  According to Bloomberg, the Gellert family, headed by patriarch George Gellert, is also a close friend of Charles Kushner and that Gellert is “a co-guarantor of the Kushners’ debts at 666 Fifth Avenue, loan documents show.” (See Kushners’ New York City Buildings Are Mostly Owned By Others). 

So it looks like the WH must have now accepted the traditional resignation submitted by our Ambassador to Chile on January 20, 2017 and now wants a non-career appointee to be its top representative in the country.

If confirmed, Mr. Gellert would succeed career diplomat Carol Perez who was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Chile in July 2016. Tenures for career diplomats on chief of mission positions (with few exceptions) are typically for three years. Of course, it should be noted that appointees also serve at the pleasure of the president, and can be replaced at any time during their tenure.


PR SVP and Ex-Gingrich Aide Michelle Giuda to be Asst Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Posted: 12:24 am ET


On January 4, the WH announced the President’s appointment of Michelle Giuda, the former Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. Ms Giuda has been  Senior VP for PR firm, Weber Shandwick. Via White House:

Michelle Giuda of New York, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Public Affairs). Ms. Giuda has been the Senior Vice President of Global Corporate Communications at Weber Shandwick in New York, New York, since 2014.  She oversees global communications strategy across 81 countries at Weber Shandwick, a global public relations firms with offices in major media, business, and government capitals around the world.  During her tenure, Weber Shandwick became the most awarded public relations firm at the 2016 Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity, the first firm to be named PRWeek’s Global Agency of the Year for three consecutive years, and the only PR agency on Advertising Age’s A-List in 2014 and 2015.  Ms. Giuda was named one of the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business by the Asian American Business Development Center in 2016.  Previously, she served as Deputy National Press Secretary to Speaker Newt Gingrich and Communications Director for GOPAC in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Giuda graduated, cum laude, with a B.A. from the University of California Los Angeles, where she won an NCAA Championship and captained the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics Team; and she earned an M.P.S. from George Washington University.


This position does not require Senate confirmation. Here’s a quick summary of the position according to history.state.gov:

The Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Relations during a general reorganization in Dec 1944, after Congress authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries in the Department from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). The reorganization was the first to designate substantive designations for specific Assistant Secretary positions. The Department changed the title to Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in 1946. Initially, incumbents supervised the forerunners of the U.S. Information Agency and the Voice of America. P.L. 112-116, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 (signed into law August 10, 2012), removed the requirement for Senate confirmation of Assistant Secretaries of State for Public Affairs.

Previous appointees to this position include Admiral John F. Kirby (2015–2017), Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler (1989–1992), American poet and Pulitzer Prize writer, Archibald MacLeish (1944–1945), and Career Ambassador Richard A. Boucher, who served the longest from 2001–2005.

Posted and deleted from Medium:


Prominent Businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr to be Ambassador to Barbados, But Wait – #ForgotSomething?

Posted: 12:21 am ET
Updated: Jan 8/18, 7:29 pm PT


Update: On January 8, one of the nominations sent by the White House to the Senate was that of Leandro Rizzuto as Ambassador to Barbados and six other counties in the Eastern Carribean, so that answers our questions:

Leandro Rizzuto, of New Jersey, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

On January 4, the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate Leandro Rizzuto as the next Ambassador to Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.  The White House released the following brief bio.  Note that Leandro Rizzuto, the founder of Conair died Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017; the son named Leandro Rizzuto, Jr. is the nominee. Confusion could have been avoided had the White House did this announcement correctly.

Leandro Rizzuto of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary America to St. Kitts and Nevis and to Saint Lucia.  Mr. Rizzuto, a prominent businessman, is past Chairman of the Professional Beauty Association (PBA).  He has been Director of North American Beauty Events since 2005, the producer of Cosmoprof NA—America’s largest B2B Beauty Show—creator and publisher of “Style Source Magazine.”  For over 30 years, he helped build his family’s business, Conair, into one of the largest private companies in the United States, with offices in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Latin America.  At Conair, he was Senior Vice President for Professional Global Business Units and had increased sales from $25 million to $300 million and was credited with over 25 United States patents.  Mr. Rizzuto attended Arizona State University, where he majored in marketing.

Note that the announcement only mentions service as Ambassador to Barbados, and concurrent service to St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia. The Chief of Mission to the US Embassy Barbados is traditionally accredited to six other countries in the Eastern Carribean: Antigua / BarbudaDominicaGrenadaSt. Kitts and NevisSt. Lucia and St. Vincent / Grenadines. A couple quick questions to WHA folks: 1) Is the Administration planning on nominating a separate individual to be accredited to the four countries not listed in this announcement? and 2) Do you know that we have a Principal Officer assigned at the US Embassy in Grenada? When did that happen?

Our previous posts on Barbados:


Ex-Ambassador Kevin Moley to be Asst Secretary for International Organization Affairs (IO)

Posted: 12:05  am ET


On January 3, the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate Kevin Moley, a former Bush-appointed ambassador to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizational Affairs (State/IO). Ambassador Moley was previously Ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, and in that in capacity, he appears on FOIA’ed materials available in ACLU’s public repository of documents relating to the Bush administration’s policies on rendition, detention, and interrogation.” Also see the op-ed he wrote in 2003 on the Guantánamo detainees. Prior to his appointment to USUN/Geneva, he was Senior Advisor to Dick Cheney for the Bush-Cheney 2000 Presidential Campaign.

The WH released the following brief bio:

Kevin Edward Moley of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Organizational Affairs).  Mr.  Moley, a prominent businessman, Federal Government official and former Ambassador, was a private investor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Williamsburg, Virginia, from 2006-present and 1998-2001.  From 2001-2006 he was Representative of the United States to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, with the rank of Ambassador.  Previously, he was a senior executive in the health care industry and served the Federal Government as Deputy Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services (1992-1993), Assistant Secretary for Management and Budget, Department of Health and Human Services (1989-1992), and in senior positions in the Health Care Financing Administration (1984-1988).  He played key leadership roles in the Reagan-Bush, Bush-Quayle, and Bush-Cheney Presidential campaigns.  From 1965-1971, Mr. Moley served honorably in the Marine Corps as a Sgt. (E-5), receiving a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal w/Combat V (Valor).  He has served as Chairman of the Board of Project Concern International, a San Diego based NGO (2007-2015), and on Federal Government commissions, such as Vice Chairman of the President’s Council on Management Improvement (1989-1991).


Trump to Nominate Ex-PCV Josephine Olsen to be Peace Corps Director

Posted: 12:03 am ET


On January 3, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate a former Deputy and Acting Director of the Peace Corps Josephine Olsen to be the next Peace Corps Director. The WH released the following brief bio:

Josephine Olsen of Maryland, to be Director of the Peace Corps. Ms. Olsen, Ph.D., is senior lecturer at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and has served for the past eight years as a visiting professor at the School of Social Work and Director, Center for Global Education Initiatives.  She has taught on issues of international health and social services, and has authored numerous articles and spoken frequently at academic conferences on teaching and studying abroad. Before joining the faculty, Ms. Olsen was Deputy and Acting Director of the Peace Corps from 2001 – 2009.  She was also a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, a country director, a regional director, and agency chief of staff.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Utah and both her M.S.W. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.