U.S. Senate Confirms 203 Senior Foreign Service Promotions

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On June 24, the U.S. Senate confirmed 203 nominees for Senior Foreign Service promotions:

2021-06-24 PN357-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Deanna Hanek Abdeen, and ending Ellen K. Tannor, which 203 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 13, 2021.

Nominees: PN357-1 — 117th Congress (2021-2022)All Information

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Minister-Counselor:


  • Deanna Hanek Abdeen, of VA
  • Begzat Bix Aliu, of VA
  • Jorgan Kendal Andrews, of VA
  • Mary Emma Arnold, of VA
  • Jennifer L. Bachus, of VA
  • Lance M. Bailey, of VA
  • Nicholas R. Berliner, of VA
  • Tobin J. Bradley, of DC
  • Katherine Ann Brucker, of DC
  • Robert G. Burgess, of DC
  • Michelle Ann Burton, of WA
  • Kelly S. Cecil, of FL
  • Ricardo Cifredo Colon, of VA
  • Angela Colyvas-McGinnis, of MD
  • Kathryn Taylor Crockart, of NC
  • Jill E. Darken, of IL
  • James R. Dayringer, of MO
  • Marc Douglas Dillard, of VA
  • James Edward Donegan, of VA
  • Kurt D. Donnelly, of VA
  • Abigail Lee Dressel, of CT
  • Patrick M. Dunn, of VA
  • David S. Elmo, of VA
  • Gabriel Escobar, of TX
  • Yuri P. Fedorenko, of MI
  • Tara Elizabeth Feret, of VA
  • Julie Davis Fisher, of VA
  • Kathleen A. Fitzgibbon, of VA
  • J. Robert Garverick, of VA
  • Jennifer Gavito, of MO
  • Ellen J. Germain, of NY
  • Carolyn B. Glassman, of CA
  • Ryan M. Gliha, of AZ
  • Michael Gonzales, of MD
  • Robert F. Hannan, of VA
  • Keith Lee Heffern, of VA
  • Christina Maria Huth Higgins, of VA
  • Melanie Harris Higgins, of VA
  • Elizabeth K. Horst, of DC
  • Paul R. Houston, of VA
  • Bryan D. Hunt, of VA
  • David R. Johnson, of MN
  • Mark Coolidge Johnson, of VA
  • Karen D. Kelley, of HI
  • Martin T. Kelly, of FL
  • Angela M. Kerwin, of VA
  • Cynthia A. Kierscht, of VA
  • Margaret Kurtz-Randall, of NY
  • Helen Grace LaFave, of NH
  • Daniel J. Lawton, of VA
  • Panfilo Marquez, of CA
  • Paul Overton Mayer, of VA
  • Joshua D. McDavid, of WA
  • John W. McIntyre, of TX
  • Deborah Rutledge Mennuti, of DC
  • Jonathan Robert Mennuti, of DC
  • Mario McGwinn Mesquita, of VA
  • Herro K. Mustafa, of CA
  • George M. Navadel, of TX
  • J. Robert Post, of DC
  • Timothy Meade Richardson, of MD
  • Karen Hideko Sasahara, of VA
  • Jonathan L. Shrier, of NY
  • Michael H. Smith, of ME
  • Willard Tenney Smith, of VA
  • Thomas D. Smitham, of MD
  • Howard T. Solomon, of MI
  • Linda S. Specht, of RI
  • Ellen Barbara Thorburn, of FL
  • Christina Tomlinson, of VA
  • Pamela M. Tremont, of VA
  • Hale Colburn VanKoughnett, of DC
  • Lesslie C. Viguerie, of VA
  • Peter H. Vrooman, of NY
  • JoAnne Wagner, of VA
  • Eva Anne Weigold Schultz, of VA
  • Aleisha Woodward, of VA
  • Marta Costanzo Youth, of MD
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@StateDept Designates Ambassador Atul Keshap as Chargé d’Affaires For US Mission India

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On June 29, 2021, the State Department announced the designation of Ambassador Atul Keshap as CDA for US Mission India:

Ambassador Atul Keshap, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, will be departing for New Delhi to serve as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, following the retirement of Ambassador Daniel Smith. Ambassador Keshap will bring a wealth of experience to the role, having served previously at U.S. Embassy New Delhi and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia. He most recently served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs and as the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Ambassador Keshap’s appointment will reinforce the close U.S. partnership with the Government and people of India, demonstrated by our collaboration to overcome global challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 30 this year, Ambassador Dan Smith who was then FSI Director  was appointed CDA for US Mission India (Ambassador Daniel Smith to be Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim at US Mission India). Apparently, he has now retired. There are rumors floating around that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to set to be named  as Biden’s pick for his ambassador to India, but to-date no official announcement has been made. Unless an announcement, and confirmation hearing happens in the next four weeks, it is likely that whoever is the nominee will be stuck in the system while the Senate goes on its August break.
Note that the tentative Senate schedule indicates the recess commencing on August 7.  The Senate will not be back in session until September 13, and then after that, just some 48 more work days before 2021 ends.


Troy Damian Fitrell to be U.S.Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea

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On June 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Troy Damian Fitrell to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Guinea. The WH released the following brief bio:

Troy Damian Fitrell, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Guinea
Troy Fitrell, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, is the Director of the Office of West African Affairs at the Department of State. He has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Ethiopia and Mauritius, as Deputy Director of the Department’s Office of Southern African Affairs, and as Deputy Director of the Office of International Security Cooperation in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. He was Senior Advisor to the United States Special Envoy for the Great Lakes of Africa, coordinating U.S. policy on the cross-border security, political, and economic issues in the Great Lakes region. Fitrell served as a Pearson Fellow on the staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was a Watch Officer in the Department’s Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. He also served overseas at the U.S. embassies in Portugal, Guatemala, Zambia, Ghana and Denmark. Fitrell earned a B.A. at the University of Maryland and an M.S. at the National War College. He speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish and Danish.

If confirmed, Mr. Fitrell would succeed Ambassador Simon Henshaw who served from March 4, 2019 until June 9, 2020 when Ambassador Henshaw passed away at post (see US Embassy Conakry Announces the Passing of Ambassador Simon Henshaw in Guinea).
Guinea is one of those places where political appointees are not breaking the doors to get to. Since 1960, only three (14.3%) noncareer appointees served at the US Embassy in Conakry; all their tenures occurred between 1959 to 1965. Of the 21 appointees since 1960, 18 have been career diplomats.