Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Mary Catherine Phee to be Ambassador to Qatar

On October 17, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate career diplomat and former ambassador to South Sudan Mary Catherine Phee as the next U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mary Catherine Phee of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Qatar.

Ms. Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the Department of State. Previously, she served as Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Additionally, she served on the National Security Council as Director for Iraq and was the Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, al-Amarah, Iraq. Ms. Phee earned her B.A. from Indiana University and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is the recipient the State Department’s Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award and the Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission. She also received the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Order of the British Empire. Ms. Phee speaks Arabic.

If confirmed, this would be Ambassador Phee’s second ambassadorial appointment. She was appointed and confirmed U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan in 2015.  She would succeed career diplomat Dana Shell Smith (1970–) who served as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Doha from 2014-2017.

Since 1960 when AFSA started tracking ambassadorial appointments, the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar appointees have been largely career diplomats. Only two appointees (Joseph Ghougassian (1944–) and Chase Untermeyer (1946–)) were political appointees.

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