New Biden Nominations: DGHR, EUR, NEA, AF, IO, DS and CSO

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On April 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for top positions in the geographic and functional bureaus of the State Department.
  • Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat to be Director General of the Foreign Service and the Chair of the Board of the Foreign Service (DGHR)
  • Karen Erika Donfried to be Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR)
  • Barbara A. Leaf to be Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA)
  • Mary Catherine Phee to be Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (AF) and Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation (AFD)
  • Michele Jeanne Sison to be Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs (IO)
  • Gentry O. Smith to be Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security (DS)
  • Anne A. Witkowsky to be Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) and Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization
For the geographic bureaus, President Biden previously nominated Ambassador Brian Nichols to be A/S for Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) and Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink for  the East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). With these new nominees for EUR, NEA, AF and IO, we are now waiting for just SCA to complete the line up under the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (P). The nominee for “P”, Victoria Nuland had her confirmation hearing before the SFRC on 4/15/21.
If all these nominees are confirmed, it looks like at the regional bureaus, Foggy Bottom will have  one non-career appointee (EUR), one retired FS (NEA), four active career FS (WHA, EAP, AF, IO) , and one as yet unknown for SCA. During the previous administration, these top geographic bureau positions were all filled with non-career appointees (the assistant secretary for the AF bureau was a retired FS). This is a hopeful start.
The WH released the following brief bio:
Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, Nominee for Director General of the Foreign Service and the Chair of the Board of the Foreign Service

Marcia Bernicat, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Senior Official for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment and as Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the Department of State.  Previously, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea Bissau, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources at the State Department.  She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Barbados and Malawi and as Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca, Morocco. Bernicat earned a Master of Science in Foreign Service Degree at Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s Degree at Lafayette College.  Her foreign languages are French, Hindi and Russian and she is a recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.

Karen Erika Donfried, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs

Dr. Karen Donfried currently serves as President of the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF).  Before assuming this position in April 2014, Donfried was the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council.  Prior to that, she served as the National Intelligence Officer for Europe on the National Intelligence Council.  She first joined GMF in 2001 after having served for ten years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service.  When she was at GMF from 2005 to 2010, she first served as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.  From 2003-2005, she worked in the Policy Planning office at the U.S. Department of State, handling the Europe portfolio.  Donfried has written and spoken extensively on German foreign policy, European integration, and transatlantic relations.  She is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for European Studies.  The King of the Belgians awarded the Commander of the Order of the Crown to her in 2020 and she became an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 2018.  Additionally, she received the Cross of the Order of Merit from the German Government in 2011 and a Superior Service Medal from the National Intelligence Community in 2014.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Council on Germany.  Donfried has a Ph.D. and MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a Magister from the University of Munich, Germany and holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University.  She is fluent in German. 

Barbara A. Leaf, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs

Barbara A. Leaf is the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Middle East and North Africa Affairs on the National Security Council.  Prior to this, she was the Ruth and Sid Lapidus Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Director of the Beth and David Geduld Program on Arab Politics.  She previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Arabian Peninsula in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs as well as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq at the State Department.  She directed the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Basrah, Iraq and was the Department’s first Director of the Office of Iranian Affairs.  Leaf also has served in Rome, Sarajevo, Paris, Cairo, Tunis, Jerusalem and Port-au-Prince.  She speaks Arabic, French, Italian and Serbo-Croatian.  Leaf has a Bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a Master’s degree from the University of Virginia. 

Mary Catherine Phee, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and to be a Member of the Board of Directors of the African Development Foundation

Mary Catherine Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, currently serves as Principal Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the State Department.  She was U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan from 2015 to 2017.  Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.  She also was the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs and Deputy Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, handling UN engagement in Africa for both portfolios.  Earlier in her career, Phee served as Director for Iraq at the National Security Council and as Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, Iraq.  She began her career in Amman, Jordan and also worked at U.S. Embassies in Cairo, Egypt and Kuwait City, Kuwait.  She received the Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award for conflict resolution and peacemaking, the James A. Baker, III-C. Howard Wilkins, Jr. Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission, the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Order of the British Empire Award, and a Presidential Rank Award.  She speaks Arabic.  A native of Chicago, she is a graduate of Indiana University and holds a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

Michele Jeanne Sison, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

Michele Jeanne Sison, a five-time Ambassador, has extensive experience in advancing U.S. interests through multilateral diplomacy.  Sison has served as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti since 2018.   She also served as Deputy Representative of the United States to the United Nations (with the rank of Ambassador) from 2014 to 2018, where she helped build global coalitions to counter transnational threats to peace and security and advocated for a more effective, efficient, and accountable UN and multilateral system.  She also has long experience with UN peacekeeping and the UN entities responsible for development, humanitarian relief, and human rights in the field.  Previously, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Assistant Chief of Mission in Iraq, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Pakistan.  Her earlier tours include India, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Haiti, and Washington.  Sison received a B.A. from Wellesley College and is the recipient of numerous State Department awards, including the Distinguished Service Award and the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Service.  She holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest rank in the U.S. Foreign Service.

Gentry O. Smith, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security

Gentry O. Smith leads The Gentry Group, LLC, a security consulting firm.  A former career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, he served as the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Countermeasures in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Director of Physical Security Programs in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the State Department.  Other State Department postings include assignments as Regional Security Officer at the U.S.  Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, Deputy Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Burma.  Smith also served as a Special Agent in the Criminal Investigative Liaison Division, Special Agent on the Secretary of State Protection Detail, and Assistant Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  He earned a B.A. in political science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Anne A. Witkowsky, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations and Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization

Anne A. Witkowsky most recently served as the Co-Director of the Task Force on U.S. Strategy to Support Democracy and Counter Authoritarianism, a partnership of Freedom House, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the McCain Institute.  She has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon and as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Coordinator, and Deputy Assistant Coordinator, in the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.  Witkowsky was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC and earlier served as Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council Staff at the White House.  She earned a Master in Public Administration degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree from Yale. She has been recognized with a number of awards including the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service and the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service.

 

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Biden Announces Nominations of Nine Ambassadors to Countries in Africa, East Asia, Middle East/North African Region

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On April 15, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate nine career members of the Senior Foreign Service as ambassadors to countries in Africa, East Asia, and in the Middle East/North Africa region:
  • Larry Edward André, Jr. – Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia
  • Maria E. Brewer – Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho
  • Christopher John Lamora – Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon
  • Tulinabo S. Mushingi – Ambassador to the Republic of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe
  • Michael Raynor – Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau
  • Eugene S. Young – Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo

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  • Marc Evans Knapper – Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

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  • Elizabeth Moore Aubin – Ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria
  • Steven C. Bondy – Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain

State/AF – AFRICA

Larry Edward André, Jr., Nominee for Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia

Larry André, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the United States Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at U.S. Embassy Juba, South Sudan.  He is a former Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.  He has served as Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, and as Deputy Executive Director  in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs, and was the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  André earned an MBA from Arizona State University/American Graduate School of International Management and a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College.  He is the recipient of numerous State Department Awards, including the Director General Award for Reporting, and was recently recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the Joint Distinguished Civilian Award.  He speaks French fluently.

Maria E. Brewer, Nominee for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho

Maria E. Brewer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, recently served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone.  Prior to that, Brewer served as the Deputy Director in the Office of Career Development and Assignments for the State Department; as the Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria; and as the leader of the management team at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.   Earlier in her career, Brewer’s assignments include service as the Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka and Management Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai, India.  She also was Deputy Executive Director and Supervisory Post Management Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs; Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Management; and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration.  She earned a B.A. from Valparaiso University and an M.S. from the National Defense University, Industrial College of the Armed Forces.  She speaks Spanish, Krio and Hindi.

Christopher John Lamora, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon

Christopher Lamora, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Accra, Ghana. He was previously the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Africa and African Security Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department and he also served as Director of the Office of Central African Affairs, Deputy Director of the Bureau’s Office of Economic and Regional Affairs, and desk officer for the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He served overseas at the U.S. embassies in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Greece and the Central African Republic, and the U.S. Consulate General in Douala, Cameroon. Lamora earned a B.S. at Georgetown University and speaks French, Spanish, and Modern Greek.

Tulinabo S. Mushingi, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Angola and the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe

Tulinabo Mushingi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, is currently U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.  Mushingi also served previously as the U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso and as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Mushingi was the Deputy Executive Secretary and Executive Director in Executive Office of the Secretary in the Department of State.  Earlier in his career, Mushingi served at the U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, Morocco; and the U.S. Embassies in Mozambique and Malaysia as well as in various assignments at the State Department in Washington, D.C.  Mushingi earned a Ph.D. from Georgetown University, an M.A. from Howard University, and both “Graduat and Licence” degrees from the Higher Institute of Education in Bukavu, Congo.  He is a recipient of the Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy.  He speaks Portuguese, French, and Swahili.

Michael Raynor, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Senegal and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau

Michael Raynor is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who most recently served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia.  Earlier, he held positions as the Assistant Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and the U.S. Ambassador to Benin.  Raynor also was the Director of the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Global Talent Management and the Executive Director in the Bureau of African Affairs at the State Department.  Raynor’s earlier experience includes service at the U.S. Embassies in Zimbabwe, Namibia, Guinea and Djibouti.  He earned his B.A. from Lafayette College and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University.  He is the recipient of the State Department’s Leamon R. Hunt Award for Management Excellence.  He speaks fluent French.

Eugene S. Young, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo

Eugene Young is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who currently serves as the Economic Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, Israel.  Previously,  Young was the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria; the Consul and Senior Civilian Representative of the U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan; and the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Ljubljana, Slovenia.  Among his other assignments,  Young served as the Economic Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, the Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Durban, South Africa, and as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Deputy Secretary of State.   Young earned his B.A. degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and an M.A. degree from The George Washington University, in Washington, D.C.  His foreign languages are German, French, Slovene, Slovak, and Serbo-Croatian.

State/EAP – EAST ASIA PACIFIC

Marc Evans Knapper, Nominee for Ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Marc Evans Knapper, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japan and Korea in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State.  Before assuming that position, Knapper was the Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea and, prior to that, was the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission.  Earlier, Knapper was Director of the State Department’s Office of India Affairs and Director of the State Department’s Office of Japanese Affairs.  His other assignments include leadership positions in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.  Knapper earned his B.A. from Princeton University and his M.A. from the Army War College.  He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award, the State Department’s Linguist of the Year Award, and a Presidential Rank Award.  He speaks Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese.

State/NEA – Middle East and North Africa

Elizabeth Moore Aubin, Nominee for Ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

Elizabeth Moore Aubin, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in the Department of State.  Other senior leadership roles held by Aubin during her three decades of service are Executive Director of the Joint Executive Office of the Bureaus of Near Eastern Affairs and South and Central Asian Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada; Executive Director of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, Algeria.  Aubin earned her B.A. degree from Barnard College of Columbia University and did graduate work at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School.  She speaks French and Italian.

Steven C. Bondy, Nominee for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain

Steven C. Bondy, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is a Senior Advisor in the Department of State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  In 2017-2020 he was Charge d’Affaires a.i. and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  He previously served as the Assistant Chief of Mission in Kabul, Afghanistan and as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command.  Mr. Bondy earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Delaware.  The recipient of numerous U.S. government awards, including a Presidential Rank Award, he speaks Arabic, French, Farsi, Turkish and Spanish.

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@StateDept Nominations Pending at the SFRC as of 4/12

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The following State Department nominations are currently pending at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
2021-02-04 PN114 United States Agency for International Development | Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
Confirmation hearing on 3/23/21. Nomination expected to be taken up during the Business Meeting on 4/15/21. 
2021-03-09 PN241 Department of State | Uzra Zeya, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights).
SFRC Confirmation Hearing scheduled for April 15, time TBD
2021-02-13 PN120 Department of State | Victoria Nuland, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs).
SFRC Confirmation Hearing scheduled for April 15, time TBD

2021-04-12 PN268 Department of State | Brian A. Nichols, of Rhode Island, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs).
2021-03-17 PN253 Department of State | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be an Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment).
2021-03-17 PN252 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
2021-03-17 PN251 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be United States Alternate Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of five years; United States Alternate Governor of the Inter-American Development Bank for a term of five years
2021-03-15 PN242 Department of State | Bonnie D. Jenkins, of New York, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

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Jose W. Fernandez to be Under Secretary of State/E (Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment)

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On March 17, 2021, The WH announced President Biden’s intent to nominate Jose W. Fernandez to be Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment):

Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Jose W. Fernandez to serve in the following positions: Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment), United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United States Alternate Governor to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and United States Alternate Governor to the Inter-American Development Bank.

Jose W. Fernandez

Jose Fernandez is a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, in New York.  A former Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, his accomplishments in the private sector have been recognized in several legal and business publications. Fernandez is Director of the Partnership for Inner City Education in New York and WBGO-FM, a former Commissioner of the New York City Latin Media and Entertainment Commission, and co-founder and former chairman of the board of the Latino International Theater Festival of New York, among many civic activities.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree magna cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he later served as trustee, and earned a J.D. and the Parker School Certificate of International Law from Columbia University.  He speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French. 

According to history.state.gov, Congress first authorized an Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs on Aug 1, 1946, for a 2-year period as the third-ranking officer in the Department (P.L. 79-590; 60 Stat. 789). The position was not renewed, however, and between 1947 and 1958 the ranking officer in the Department handling foreign economic matters was either a Deputy Under Secretary or an Assistant Secretary of State. Changes were made to this position in the intervening years. On May 12, 1994, the title was changed to “Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs.” On December 8, 2011, the title was changed to “Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment.” See more here.
Only two career diplomats were appointed to this position since it was created: Alan Philip Larson who served from 1999–2005 and Thomas Clifton Mann who served from 1965–1966.  The last four appointees to this position were all political appointees:

Related posts:

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Brett M. Holmgren to be Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR)

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On March 26, 2021, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Brett M. Holmgren to serve as  Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research (INR). The WH released the following brief bio:

Brett M. Holmgren served as the Deputy for Nominations for the Biden-Harris Transition Team, and as Co-Chair of the Intelligence Working Group for Biden for President.  Earlier, Holmgren was Vice President for Technology Risk Management at Capital One Financial.  Prior to that, he was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, where he also previously served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism.  Earlier, Holmgren was Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Director for Counterterrorism at the National Security Council, and a political analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency.  Holmgren began his government service as a counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency.   Holmgren is the recipient of numerous performance awards, including the Director of National Intelligence Superior Service Award, the Central Intelligence Agency Director’s award, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award.  He received a Bachelor’s Degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master’s Degree, summa cum laude, from Johns Hopkins University.

According to history.state.gov, on Oct 10, 1957, the Department of State elevated the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary for Intelligence and Research to that of Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, with rank equivalent to that of an Assistant Secretary of State. Since 1947, the Special Assistant had been in charge of intelligence functions that the Department of State first received after the abolition of the wartime Office of Strategic Services in 1945. An Act of Congress (P.L. 99-93) of Aug 16, 1985, authorized the appointment of an Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research. Prior to this date, the Secretary of State designated all Directors of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Since Aug 1986, all incumbents have served as Assistant Secretaries of State and been commissioned by the President.
The most recent career diplomat to head INR was Ambassador Daniel Bennett Smith who served from 2014–2018, and then was sent to oversee the Foreign Service Institute. Ambassador Smith was  INR Assistant Secretary for two years at the end of the Obama administration and two years at the beginning of the Trump administration.
According to AFSA’s appointment tracker, 57.1% of INR appointees were career appointments. Four of the career appointees to INR since 1986, also have the personal rank of career ambassador: Morton Isaac Abramowitz (1985–1989); J. Stapleton Roy (1999–2001); Philip S. Goldberg (2010–2013); and Daniel Bennett Smith (2014–2018).
If confirmed, Mr. Holmgreen would succeed Ellen McCarthy who served at INR from January 2019 until January 2020.
Related post:
March 2019: Secretary Mike Pompeo Swears-In New INR Assistant Secretary Ellen E. McCarthy

 

 

State/DMR Nominee Brian P. McKeon: My first priority, if confirmed …

Excerpt from Statement of Brian P. McKeon Nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Committee on Foreign Relations March 3, 2021:
My first priority, if confirmed, is to help the Department of State build back better to meet the diplomatic and security challenges of the 21st century. That starts with investing in its greatest asset – the over 75,000 public servants who work in Washington, at over 270 posts around the world, and in dozens of facilities around the United States. Our diplomats are on the front lines of America’s security and interests. They deserve our support and efforts to strengthen their ranks. We must ensure that we recruit, develop and retain a diverse and professional workforce that is prepared and empowered to advance not only our traditional diplomatic interests, but also to address the pressing challenges of this era, such as climate change, global health security, irregular migration, advanced technology, increased economic competitiveness, threats to democratic governance, and, not least, long-term strategic competition with China.
Let me say a few words in particular about diversity, which will be a top priority for all of the senior leadership. Stated simply, the Department of State cannot fully represent America unless its workforce is fully representative of America. We must make real gains in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through concrete actions to dismantle structural barriers at the Department. Meaningful change will require sustained focus on three key areas: talent management, transparency, and accountability. Secretary Blinken has made clear he will have such a focus, and so will I, if confirmed. As an initial action, the Secretary has followed through 3 on his commitment to this committee by creating a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office, reporting directly to him.
If confirmed, I also intend to devote considerable attention to ensuring that we are aligning our resources with our policy priorities – both investments in our operations and in State and USAID foreign assistance programs – and that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
For the last several years, the Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, protected the international affairs budget from requested cuts, which has thankfully provided a solid foundation on which to build as we undertake the collective work to revitalize the Department of State. If confirmed, I look forward to working with you to ensure the Department has the resources and authorities it needs to meet the many challenges we face. I am committed to ensuring the effective management of the resources made available to us, but we will need your help to make the necessary investments in our workforce, in information technology, in building and maintaining safe and secure embassies, and in our foreign assistance programs that seek to advance our national interests.


 

 

SFRC Pending Nominations: Nuland, McKeon, Power, Sherman

Update 3/3/21 12:09 AM: The March 3 confirmation hearing at 10 AM now lists Wendy Sherman and Brian McKeon, nominees for State/D and State/DMR  respectively, as witnesses. Click here to watch.
The following State Department and USAID nominees are currently pending at the Foreign Relations committee. There is a March 3 confirmation hearing but it does not list the nominees who will be considered as of this writing.
  • 2021-02-13 PN120  Victoria Nuland, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs), vice David Hale
  • 2021-02-13 PN119  Brian P. McKeon, of the District of Columbia, to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, vice Heather Anne Higginbottom
  • 2021-02-04 PN114  Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Mark Andrew Green, resigned.
  • 2021-01-20 PN79-12  Wendy Ruth Sherman, of Maryland, to be Deputy Secretary of State, vice Stephen E. Biegun

 

 

SFRC Clears Blinken Nomination, Full Senate Vote on Tuesday, Jan 26

In a 15-3 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee cleared the nomination of Tony Blinken on January 25 to be the next secretary of state. It looks like Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Rand Paul (R-KY) voted no on this nomination. Insurrectionist Senator Ted Cruz of Texas also voted no.
The full Senate is expected to vote on the Blinken nomination mid-day tomorrow, January 26. Foggy Bottom may see the 71st Secretary of State in Foggy Bottom by afternoon.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Sesame Street’s “Grover” to talk about refugees at the United Nations in New York City, New York on September 19, 2016. [State Department Photo/Public Domain]


 

 

Confirmation Hearing: Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken (Video/Text)

 

On January 19, Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the 71st Secretary of State appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing.

Excerpt from his prepared statement (PDF):

If confirmed, three priorities will guide my time as Secretary. 

First, I will work with you to reinvigorate the Department by investing in its greatest asset: the foreign service officers, civil servants, and locally employed staff who animate American diplomacy around the world.

I know from firsthand experience their passion, energy, and courage. Often far from home and away from loved ones, sometimes in dangerous conditions exacerbated by the global pandemic – they deserve our full support. If I am confirmed as Secretary, they will have it.

I am committed to advancing our security and prosperity by building a diplomatic corps that fully represents America in all its talent and diversity. Recruiting, retaining, and promoting officers with the skills to contend with 21st Century challenges and who look like the country we represent. Sparing no effort to ensure their safety and well-being. Demanding accountability – starting with the Secretary – for building a more diverse, inclusive and non-partisan workplace.

Second, working across government and with partners around the world, we will revitalize American diplomacy to take on the most pressing challenges of our time.

We’ll show up again, day-in, day-out whenever and wherever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake. We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.

For all that has changed, some things remain constant.

American leadership still matters.

The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos. Either way, that does not serve the American people

Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin.

Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. Not one of the big challenges we face can be met by one country acting alone – even one as powerful as the U.S.

But we’ll also act with confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good.

Guided by those principles, we can overcome the COVID crisis – the greatest shared challenge since World War II.

We can outcompete China – and remind the world that a government of the people, by the people, can deliver for its people.

We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change.

We can revitalize our core alliances – force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats posed by Russia, Iran, and North Korea and to stand up for democracy and human rights.

And in everything we do around the world, we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy delivers for American working families here at home.

Let me conclude with a word about this institution, whose resilience and determination was on full display in the aftermath of senseless and searing violence in these halls. Both the President-elect and I believe we must restore Congress’s traditional role as a partner in our foreign policy making.

In recent years, across administrations of both parties, Congress’s voice in foreign policy has been diluted and diminished.

That doesn’t make the executive branch stronger – it makes our country weaker.

President-elect Biden believes – and I share his conviction – that no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. You are the representatives of the American people. You provide that advice and consent. We can only tackle the most urgent problems our country faces if we work together, and I am dedicated to doing that.

If confirmed, I will work as a partner to each of you on behalf of all Americans.

 


 

 

State/AF PDAS Geeta Pasi to be U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia

The WH released the following brief bio:
Geeta Pasi, of New York, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
Ms. Pasi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs at the Department of State.  She previously served as United States Ambassador to Chad and as United States Ambassador to Djibouti.
Ms. Pasi also served as Director of Career Development and Assignments for the State Department, Director of the Department’s Office of East African Affairs, Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Deputy Principal Officer at the United States Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany.  Her other past assignments include Afghanistan Desk Officer in the Office of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh Affairs, Political Officer at the United States Embassy in New Delhi, India, and Political Officer at the United States Embassy in Accra, Ghana.
Ms. Pasi earned her B.A. from Duke University and her M.A. from New York University.  She has won numerous Department of State performance awards, including the Matilde W. Sinclaire Language Award.  She speaks French, German, Hindi, Romanian, and Russian.

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