U.S. Senate Confirms First Political Ambassador to Thailand in 47 Years

 

We missed this one last year. On July 15, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Michael George DeSombre to be the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand. The U.S. Senate confirmed his nomination on January 8, 2020.
This position has traditionally been encumbered by a senior career diplomat of the U.S. Foreign Service. We have to go back all the way to 1973 to locate a political appointee to this position. Retired U.S. Army officer William Roscoe Kintner (1915–1997) who served during World War II and during the Korean conflict was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Thailand from November 29, 1973–March 15, 1975 under Presidents Nixon and Ford’s tenures. Since AFSA started tracking the ambassadorial appointments going back to 1960, only two political appointees made it to Thailand as chief of mission out of a total of 18 confirmed appointees (data as of 2016).
Ambassador-designate DeSombre’s predecessors at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok includes Career Ambassador Kristie Ann Kenney (1955–), five times ambassador John Gunther Dean (1926–); Career Ambassador Morton Isaac Abramowitz (1933–), and two times Ambassador Charles Sheldon Whitehouse (1926–2001), the father of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island).

His Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)  below via state.gov:

Michael George DeSombre is globally recognized as a preeminent authority on mergers and acquisitions and high profile negotiations.  A partner in the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell since 2004, Mr. DeSombre leads their mergers and acquisition practice in Asia where he has been resident for over 20 years.  His extensive representation of American and other international clients has honed his skills as a negotiator opposite Chinese and other Asian counterparties.  Mr. DeSombre is active in the region’s intellectual and philanthropic communities and deeply involved in the American community in Asia.  His keen understanding of Asia, extensive network of contacts and ability to bridge the legal, financial and policy worlds make him an excellent candidate for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Mr. DeSombre serves on the board of the Hong Kong Forum which seeks to promote the exchange of ideas between scholars and policymakers worldwide and to foster communication between the United States and China.  In addition, as Chairman of the Board of Save the Children Hong Kong since 2015, he has substantially grown and professionalized the organization.  He is a 19-year member of the American Club in Hong Kong and served on the Board of Governors for five years (the term limit).  He is an active supporter of the USA Rugby team and, as the Worldwide President of Republicans Overseas, Inc. since 2013, he refocused the organization to address key concerns for Americans overseas.

In 1990, Mr. DeSombre received a B.A. in Quantitative Economics and an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, where he was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar.  He graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude in 1995 and received the Reginald F. Lewis Prize in International Business Law. Mr. DeSombre is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and speaks some Korean and Japanese.

@MichaelDeSombre’s Twitter profile says “Republicans Overseas, Worldwide President.”
Big Law Business reported in August 2019 that “DeSombre, in his ethics agreement filed as part of the confirmation process, said he would resign from his posts in Republican organizations as well as his chairmanship of Save the Children Hong Kong Ltd., if he is confirmed.”
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SFRC Clears Sullivan For Moscow, Other Ambassador Nominations, Foreign Service Lists

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Confirmations: Biegun as Deputy Secretary, 11 Ambassadors, 3 Foreign Service Lists

 

On Thursday, December 19, the U.S. Senate adjourned for the 116th Congress, First Session. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will reconvene for the 116th Congress, 2nd Session, at 12:00 pm on Friday, January 3rd, 2020.
Prior to leaving town, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Stephen Biegun as the State Department’s Deputy Secretary. It also confirmed the nomination of 11 ambassadors, one USAID Assistant Administrator, and three Foreign Service lists.
STATE DEPARTMENT
PN1266 Confirmed, 90-3: Executive Calendar #550 Stephen E. Biegun to be Deputy Secretary of State

PN834 Executive Calendar #521 Kelley Eckels Currie to be Ambassador at Large for Global Women’s Issues
PN617 Executive Calendar #519 Morse H. Tan to be Ambassador at Large for Global Criminal Justice

 

AMBASSADORS
PN1047 Executive Calendar #529 Peter M. Haymond, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
PN1046 Executive Calendar #528 Kelly C. Degnan, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to Georgia
PN1038 Executive Calendar #527 Alina L. Romanowski, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the State of Kuwait
PN1036 Executive Calendar #526 Robert S. Gilchrist, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of Lithuania
PN965 Executive Calendar #524 Carmen G. Cantor, of Puerto Rico, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Federated States of Micronesia
PN902 Executive Calendar #523 Yuri Kim, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of Albania
PN891 Executive Calendar #522 Leslie Meredith Tsou, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Sultanate of Oman
PN703 Executive Calendar #520 Roxanne Cabral a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Republic of the Marshall Islands
PN121 Executive Calendar #518 David T. Fischer to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Kingdom of Morocco
USAID
PN614 Executive Calendar #411 Michelle A. Bekkering to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
FOREIGN SERVICE LISTS
2019-12-02 PN1318 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Shon Stephen Belcher, and ending David Mango, which 41 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.
2019-12-02 PN1319 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kara Miriam Abramson, and ending Megan Elizabeth Zurowski, which 154 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.
2019-12-02 PN1321 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jenny U. Abamu, and ending Hamda A. Yusuf, which 119 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on December 2, 2019.

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U.S. Senate Confirms John Sullivan as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation

 

 

PN1232: John Joseph Sullivan, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to the Russian Federation
— By unanimous consent agreement, vote 12/11/2019.
— Cloture invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 69 – 25. Record Vote Number: 392
— Considered by Senate.
— By unanimous consent agreement, debate and vote 12/12/2019.

 

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CBS News on Possible ‘Pay-to-Play’ Scheme in Withdrawn Doug Manchester Nomination

 

On November 13, the White House formally withdrew its nomination of San Diego Developer “Papa” Doug Manchester to be Ambassador to The Bahamaas.  As we have posted previously, the Nassau Guardian reported in late October that Mr. Manchester  “has stepped back from his bid to become the United States ambassador for The Bahamas.” The report said that when reached for comment, Manchester Financial Group wrote in a statement, “He has withdrawn due to the threats on his and his family’s lives including three infant children under four years old.”  The report also said: “It also noted that Manchester had received “severe” threats on his life.” (see WH Withdraws Doug Manchester’s Nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas).
The report does not include details on who made these threats against the nominee and if there is an ongoing investigation concerning these threats.
LAT article notes that the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego issued a news release on Nov. 5 announcing that Daniel Hector Mackinnon had been sentenced to seven years in prison for politically motivated attacks against Manchester and a Raytheon building.  This was an April incident where a man reportedly attempted to set fire to Manchester’s La Jolla home.
On November 18, CBS New broke the news of a “possible pay-to-play scheme for ambassador role in Trump administration.”

A CBS News investigation has uncovered a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the Republican National Committee and President Trump’s nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas. Emails obtained by CBS News show the nominee, San Diego billionaire Doug Manchester, was asked by the RNC to donate half a million dollars as his confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance, chief investigative correspondent Jim Axelrod reports.
[…]
The Senate confirmation process is exactly what Manchester quickly addressed. He wrote back to McDaniel’s request for $500,000, “As you know I am not supposed to do any, but my wife is sending a contribution for $100,000. Assuming I get voted out of the [Foreign Relations Committee] on Wednesday to the floor we need you to have the majority leader bring it to a majority vote … Once confirmed, I our [sic] family will respond!”

SFRC’s Risch reportedly “alerted the White House, which then asked Manchester to withdraw.”

Confirmations: Godfrey, Mustafa, Carwile, McKee , Marks, Cella, Plus 6 Foreign Service Lists

 

 

2019-09-26 PN888 SERBIA | Anthony F. Godfrey, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Serbia.
2019-09-26 PN890 BULGARIA | Herro Mustafa, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Bulgaria.
2019-09-26 PN771 LATVIA | John Leslie Carwile, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Latvia.
2019-09-26 PN796 PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU | Erin Elizabeth McKee, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
2019-09-26 PN131 SOUTH AFRICA | Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.
2019-09-24 PN114 FIJI, KIRIBATI, NAURU, TONGA, TUVALU | Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.
FS LISTS (Click on PN number to see the names)
2019-09-26 PN786 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Melissa McInnis, and ending Marixell Garcia, which 12 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN787-2 Foreign Service | Nomination for Courtney L. Lacroix, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1001 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning George Habib Abi-Nader, and ending Alexis Lyn Zintak, which 204 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1002 Foreign Service | Nomination for Cynthia K. Duerr, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1003 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jessica Abenstein, and ending David Waldron, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1004 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kendra Michelle Arbaiza-Sundal, and ending Jacqueline Leann Ward, which 95 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.

Confirmations: Destro (DRL), Akard (OFM), Howery (Sweden), Rakolta (UAE), Nordquist (IBRD)

 

2019-09-18 PN119 Department of State/DRL | Robert A. Destro, of Virginia, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. 09/18/2019 – Confirmed by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 49 – 44. Record Vote Number: 289.
2019-09-11 PN104 Department of State/OFM | Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador. 09/11/2019 – Confirmed by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 90 – 2. Record Vote Number: 270.
2019-09-17 PN127 Sweden | Kenneth A. Howery, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden. 09/17/2019 – Confirmed by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 62 – 32. Record Vote Number: 285
2019-09-17 PN135 United Arab Emirates | John Rakolta, Jr., of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates. 09/17/2019 – Confirmed by the Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 63 – 30. Record Vote Number: 283.
Also confirmed for the International Bank for Reconstruction:
2019-09-12 PN505 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Jennifer D. Nordquist, of Virginia, to be United States Executive Director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of two years.

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New @USUN Ambassador Kelly Craft Enters World Stage, Also Get Ready For #UNGA74

 

On September 12, new USUN Ambassador Kelly Craft presented her credentials to the UN Secretary General. The U.S. Senate confirmed her as US Ambassador to the United Nations in a 56-33 vote on July 31, 2019.  On September 10, she was also confirmed to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations in a 56-38 vote.

The 74th session of the General Assembly opens on Tuesday, 17 September 2019. For more information, see the Provisional Agenda of the Session. The first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, 24 September 2019.

U.S. Senate Confirms 9 Ambassadors, 9 Foreign Service Lists as It Adjourn For a 39-Day Recess

Help Fund the Blog |  Countdown:  4 Days to Go

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On August 1st, the U.S. Senate voted on the confirmation of multiple nominees including eight ambassador nominations. In July, it also confirmed  a few nominees and nine FS lists for the State Department. The senators will now go and have their 39-day recess. The next Senate vote will not occur until September 9.
2019-08-01 PN4 Cote d’Ivoire |  Richard K. Bell, of Pennsylvania, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire.
2019-08-01 PN123 Uruguay | Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.
2019-08-01 PN133 Cambodia | W. Patrick Murphy, of Vermont, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
2019-08-01 PN523 Mexico | Christopher Landau, of Maryland, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Mexican States.
2019-08-01 PN565 Libya | Richard B. Norland, of Iowa, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Libya.
2019-08-01 PN616 Egypt | Jonathan R. Cohen, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Arab Republic of Egypt.
2019-08-01 PN715 Colombia | Philip S. Goldberg, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Colombia.
2019-08-01 PN889 Nigeria | Mary Beth Leonard, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
2019-08-01 PN716 African Union | Jessica E. Lapenn, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the African Union, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
2019-07-31 PN712 United Nations | Kelly Craft, of Kentucky, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.
2019-07-18 PN108 Slovenia | Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.
2019-07-18 PN143 Jamaica | Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.
2019-06-27 PN129 El Salvador | Ronald Douglas Johnson, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.
Foreign Service Lists (click on link to view the names)
2019-07-31 PN605 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jennifer M. Adams, and ending Sarah-Ann Lynch, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN608 Foreign Service | Nomination for William S. Martin, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN609 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Christine Byrne, and ending Robert Mason, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on April 10, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN785 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning James J. Higgiston, and ending Bobby G. Richey, Jr., which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN787-1 Foreign Service |Nominations beginning Uchenna Nnayelugo Agu, and ending Jaime Alber Zea Cifuentes, which 264 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN789 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Allison Margaret Bartels, and ending Yang Q. Zhou, which 117 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN790 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Vanessa L. Adams, and ending Lyndsey K. Yoshino-Spencer, which 81 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN791 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Sonja Joy Andersen, and ending Sandra M. Zuniga Guzman, which 68 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-07-31 PN788-1 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jennifer Ann Amos, and ending Michael L. Mahoney, which 102 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.

 

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Senate Confirms US Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft to be @USUN Ambassador #HappyMitch #Happy

Help Fund the Blog |  Countdown:  4 Days to Go

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Update: On August 1st, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Acting USUN Jonathan Cohen to be U.S. Ambassador to Egypt.
On July 31st, the U.S. Senate confirmed the US Ambassador to Canada Kelly to be Trump’s new Ambassador to the United Nations in a 56-33 vote. The GOP has a majority in the U.S. Senate, and with the Senate Majority Leader’s support, this confirmation was never in doubt in our minds even with the Democrat’s scathing report. But it looks like five Democrats also joined all but two Republicans in confirming this nominee. Seven Democrats, two Republicans and one Independent were listed as “not voting.”
At the United Nations, we anticipate that her transition will not be easy given the deep experience of most of her predecessors and her diplomatic counterparts from  193 member states. Four of the five permanent members at the UN: ChinaFranceRussian Federationthe United Kingdom also did not send political donors to the international body as their representatives. The Chinese ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun has over 30 years of diplomatic experience. Moscow’s man at the UN Nebenzya Vasily Alekseevich similarly has over three decades of diplomatic experience. The French representative to the UN Nicolas de Rivière has diplomatic experience going back all the way to the 1990s. United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Karen Pierce has been with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office since 1981.  So … there you go. We’re all going to have to start watching UNTV.
Ambassador Craft will also arrive at USUN while the mission’s deputy and Acting Permanent Representative of the United States to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen  is on his way out. The seasoned career diplomat has been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Egypt. His nomination is currently pending on the Executive Calendar awaiting Senate confirmation. His nomination was just confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 1st.
At US Mission Canada, we expect the embassy’s DCM Richard Mills, Jr. will now assume office as Chargé d’Affaires pending the nomination/confirmation of a new ambassador. Ambassador Mills previously served as U.S. Ambassador to Armenia from 2015-2018.  He assumed his position as Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Ottawa in November 2018. He was also Chargé d’Affaires at U.S. Embassy Valetta, Malta from 2010-2012.
U.S. Mission Canada includes Embassy Ottawa and the following constituent posts and leadership below:

 

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Senate Confirms David Schenker as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA)

 

On June 5, the U.S. Senate confirmed David Schenker, of New Jersey, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA).  He was confirmed by Yea-Nay Vote. 83 – 11.

Photo by Washington Institute

Below via the Washington Institute:

David Schenker was the Aufzien fellow and director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics at The Washington Institute, a position he held until being confirmed as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in June 2019. Previously, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Levant country director, the Pentagon’s top policy aide on the Arab countries of the Levant. In that capacity, he was responsible for advising the secretary and other senior Pentagon leadership on the military and political affairs of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2005.

Prior to joining the government, Mr. Schenker was a research fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on Arab governance issues and a project coordinator a Bethesda-based contractor of large, centrally-funded USAID projects in Egypt and Jordan. In addition, he authored two Institute books: Dancing with Saddam: The Strategic Tango of Jordanian-Iraqi Relations (copublished with Lexington Books, 2003) and Palestinian Democracy and Governance: An Appraisal of the Legislative Council (2001). More recently, he published a chapter on U.S.-Lebanese relations in Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave, 2009), and Egypt’s Enduring Challenges (2011), a monograph focusing on post-Mubarak Egypt. His writings on Arab affairs have also appeared in a number of prominent scholarly journals and newspapers, including the Wall Street JournalLos Angeles Times, and Jerusalem Post.

M.A., University of Michigan; Certificate, Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA), American University in Cairo; B.A., University of Vermont. Fluent in Arabic.

Mr. Schenker succeeds Ambassador Anne Woods Patterson  who served as bureau chief from 2013–2017.  He takes over from Ambassador David Satterfield who has been Acting Assistant Secretary for NEA since September 2017.  Ambassador Satterfield was announced as the President’s pick to be Ambassador to Turkey in February 2019. His nomination was placed on the Senate Executive Calendar on May 2, 2019, and he is currently waiting for a full Senate vote.

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