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On April 21, President Biden announced his intent to nominate SFSO and former Ambassador Rena Bitter to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs. The WH released the following brief bio:
Rena Bitter, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State, Consular Affairs, Department of State
Rena Bitter, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute and a former U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Previously, she was the U.S. Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and chief of the consular section in Amman, Jordan. She also served in London, Bogota, and Mexico City. In Washington, she was Director of the State Department’s Operations Center, and a Special Assistant to the Secretary of State. Bitter has a Bachelor’s Degree from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University. She is a recipient of American Citizens Abroad’s Thomas Jefferson Award for outstanding service to the American community abroad. She speaks Spanish, Arabic and Vietnamese.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Jun 27, 1952; P.L. 82-414; 66 Stat. 174) established within the Department of State a Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, headed by an Administrator designated by the Secretary of State with rank equal to that of an Assistant Secretary. In 1962, this position became a Presidential appointee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. In 1977, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1978 changed the Administrator’s title to “Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.”
All appointees to the Consular Affairs bureau from 1953 to 1980 were non-career appointees. This trend was interrupted by the appointments of career FSOs Diego Asencio in 1980, and again in 1983 with Joan Clark. Political appointees assumed charged of the bureau in 1989 when Elizabeth Tamposi was appointed, and more recently in 2017 with Carl Risch’s appointment. If confirmed Ambassador Bitter would only be the seventh career FSO to lead the most public facing bureau of the State Department.
- Robert Walter Scott McLeod (1953–1957)
- Roderic L. O’Connor (1957–1958)
- Abba Philip Schwartz (1962–1966)
- Barbara Mae Watson (1968–1974)
- Leonard Frederick Walentynowicz (1975–1977)
- Barbara Mae Watson (1977–1980)
- Diego Cortes Asencio (1980–1983)
- Joan Margaret Clark (1983–1989)
- Elizabeth M. Tamposi (1989–1992)
- Mary A. Ryan (1993–2002)
- Maura Ann Harty (2002–2008)
- Janice Lee Jacobs (2008–2014)
- Michele Thoren Bond (2015–2017)
- Carl C. Risch (2017-2021)
- Senate Confirmations: Bitter, Kim, Young, Symington, Donovan Sept 2016
- Ambassador Nomination: Rena Bitter — From HCMC to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic May 2016
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