Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Julie D. Fisher to be U.S. Ambassador to Belarus

On April 20, 2020, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate career diplomat Julie D. Fisher, of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Belarus. The WH released the following brief bio:

Julie Fisher, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Europe and the European Union in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.  She also served on special assignment as Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

Previously, Ms. Fisher was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Mission to NATO; the Chief of Staff to the State Department’s Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources; and the Director of the State Department Operations Center.

Earlier assignments include service as Deputy Director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO and, before that, as Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Ms. Fisher earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.P.P. from Princeton University.  She speaks Russian, French, and Georgian.

According to history.state.gov, the last Senate confirmed ambassador to Belarus was Karen Brevard Stewart (1952–)  who served from October 24, 2006–March 12, 2008.  Between then and now, we had six chargé d’affaires who served in Belarus, with CDA Michael Scanlan who served  almost four years from 2009-2013. If confirmed, DAS Fisher would be the first U.S. Ambassador to Minsk since 2008.

 

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Trump to Nominate Banker Erik Bethel to be U.S. Ambassador to Panama

Updated: 4/23/2020

On April 20, 2020, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Erik Paul Bethel, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Bethel recently completed his term as United States Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank.  In that role, Mr. Bethel spearheaded a number of initiatives, including streamlining World Bank operations and promoting new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and blockchain.

A financial professional with more than 25 years of private equity and investment banking experience in Latin America and Asia, Mr. Bethel is a recognized expert on Chinese investment and financial activities in the Latin American region.  He began his career in New York covering Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.  Subsequently he moved to Mexico City as an investment banker and later to Shanghai, China as a private equity professional.  He has served on the Board of Governors of Opportunity International, a non-profit organization that provides financial services to people living in poverty in developing countries.

Mr. Bethel is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was an Olmsted Scholar, a Cox Fund Scholar, and a Battalion Commander.  He earned an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Milken Scholar.  He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Mandarin.

Based on AFSA’s ambassador historical appointments by post since 1960, 10 of 17 previous ambassadors to Panama were career diplomats; 7 or 41.2% were political appointees.  The most recent appointee to this position was John D. Feeley (1961–), a career diplomat who served from February 16, 2016–March 9, 2018. (see Former Ambassador John Feeley’s Parting Shot: Why I could no longer serve this president).
The last political appointee to this position was Linda Ellen Watt (1951–) who served from December 17, 2002–June 3, 2005 under the George W. Bush Administration. (This record was corrected, see below).
The last political appointee to this position was Simon Ferro (1953–) who served from February 26, 1999–March 1, 2001 during the Clinton tenure.

Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: Henry T. Wooster (Nominee For Jordan)

 

Via state.gov

Wooster, Henry R. – Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan – January 2020

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                  Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

CANDIDATE:     Henry T. Wooster

Henry Wooster is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, who is currently serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Maghreb and Egypt in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.  Previously, he was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy, Paris, France, and the Deputy Chief of Mission, and then Charge d’Affaires, at the U.S. Embassy, Amman, Jordan.  He also served as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy, Islamabad Pakistan, Director for Central Asia, at the National Security Council, Washington D.C.  Earlier, and as the Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commanding General, U.S. Joint Special Operations Command.   His demonstrated record of leadership, his keen understanding of Jordan, and his broad grasp of our national security interests in the region makes him an excellent candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Wooster was the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs; and as the Director of the Office of Iranian Affairs in the State Department.   His other assignments include service as Deputy Director of the Office of Provincial Affairs, Embassy Baghdad, as a political officer in Russia, and as executive officer and then as political officer at the U.S. Mission to NATO.  In the State Department headquarters in Washington he served first as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs and then to the Deputy Secretary of State.  He also worked in the Office of Iranian Affairs and the Office of Russian Affairs.  Mr. Wooster served as an Officer in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1985 – 2009,

Mr. Wooster earned a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.A. from Yale University.  He is the recipient of a Presidential Rank Award, numerous State Department awards and  awards for his military service.  He speaks French and Russian and has a working knowledge of Arabic, Farsi, and Syriac/Aramaic.

Certificate of Demonstrated Competence: William Ellison Grayson, Nominee For Republic of Estonia

 

Via state.gov

Grayson, William Ellison – Republic of Estonia – February 2020

SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                   Republic of Estonia

CANDIDATE:     William Ellison Grayson

William E. “Bill” Grayson is a senior financial services executive, lawyer, and public servant.  He is currently the National Director – Family Offices of Bernstein Private Wealth Management in San Francisco, California.  He has more than two decades of experience in investment, marketing and management positions in large global investment firms and as president of a SEC registered investment adviser.  Mr. Grayson also has a long record of public service.  He was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to be the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Army where he oversaw the Army’s 2,700 lawyers.  President George W. Bush appointed him as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and then nominated him to the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board.  During the Obama Administration he served as a Regional Panelist for the White House Fellows Commission.  He was appointed by President Donald Trump to the Presidio Trust Board of Directors in San Francisco, and was elected Board Chair by his fellow directors.   Mr. Grayson’s considerable leadership experience, and familiarity with public policy, finance, defense, and the e-government and technology initiatives so important in Estonia, make him an excellent candidate to serve as Ambassador to that nation.

Mr. Grayson has served on numerous boards of trustees and investment committees, including UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

Mr. Grayson received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his J.D. degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.  He is the recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Army.

Private Wealth Manager William Ellison Grayson to be U.S. Ambassador to Estonia

 

On Sept 30, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate William Ellison Grayson of California to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Estonia. The WH released a brief bio:

William E. Grayson is the National Director of the Family Offices of Bernstein Private Wealth Management in San Francisco, California.  In a long career of public service, Mr. Grayson has served four Presidents.  He was appointed by President Donald J. Trump to the Presidio Trust Board of Directors in San Francisco, California, where he was elected Board Chair by his fellow directors.  During the Obama Administration he served as a Regional Panelist for the White House Fellows Commission.  President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Grayson as a Commissioner on the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships and nominated him to the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board.  As Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Army under President George H.W. Bush, Mr. Grayson oversaw the Army’s 2,700 lawyers.  Mr. Grayson received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his J.D. degree from the University of San Francisco School of Law.  He is the recipient of the Outstanding Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of the Army.

The Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California Berkeley has a more extensive bio here. If confirmed, Mr. Grayson would succeed career diplomat James Desmond Melville Jr. (1957–) who served as Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Tallinn from December 8, 2015–July 29, 2018 (also see Ex-Amb. to Estonia James D. Melville Writes Why He Quit). Career FSO Elizabeth K. Horst (?–) served as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the US Embassy Tallinn from July 29, 2018–August 2, 2019. Post is currently headed by career FSO Brian Roraff as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.
Trump previously nominated Retired Navy Rear Admiral Edward Masso to be Ambassador to Estonia in September 2017.  The nomination for Edward Masso was withdrawn on May 24, 2018.
Grayson’s nomination is currently pending in Committee: 2019-10-15 PN1160 Department of State

US Embassy Cairo DCM Dorothy Shea to be U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon

 

On October 11, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Dorothy Shea of North Carolina, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lebanese Republic. The WH released the following brief bio:

Dorothy Shea, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Previously, she had served as Deputy Principal Officer at the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem, as Director of the Office of Assistance for Asia and the Near East in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and as a Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Shea was also the Political/Economic Counselor at the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, a Political Officer at the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, a Director for Democracy and Human Rights at the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for War Crimes Issues in the Department of State. Ms. Shea earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia, M.S. from Georgetown University, and M.S. from the National War College. She speaks French and Arabic.

If confirmed, Ms. Shea would succeed career diplomat Elizabeth H. Richard (?–) who was confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon by the U.S. Senate on May 17, 2016.

US Embassy Canberra PolCouns John Hennessey-Niland to be U.S. Ambassador to Palau

 

On Sept 30, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate John Hennessey-Niland of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Palau. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mr. Hennessey-Niland, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, currently serves as Political Counselor at the United States Embassy in Canberra, Australia.  Previously he was the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Marine Corps Forces Pacific at Camp Smith, Hawaii, and the Political-Economic Chief at the United States Embassy in Suva, Fiji.  Other diplomatic assignments include Deputy Chief of Mission and later Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Dublin, Ireland; Director at the National Security Council for the G-20/G-7; and Director of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.  Mr. Hennessey-Niland received his B.A. at Tufts University, a MALD at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a Diplome at France’s École Nationale d’Administration.  He speaks French and Dutch.  His awards include the Department of State Foreign Policy Advisors (POLAD) of the Year Award and the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.

If confirmed, Mr. Hennessey-Niland would succeed Ambassador Amy Jane Hyatt (1955–), a career diplomat who has been Chief of Mission to Palau since March 10, 2015.

Interior Design Businesswoman Barbera Hale Thornhill to be U.S. Ambassador to Singapore

 

The WH recently announced the president’s intent to nominate Barbera Hale Thornhill of California, to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Singapore. The WH released the following brief bio:

Barbera Hale Thornhill currently serves as president of Impact Design, a business-focused interior design firm in Los Angeles, California.  She is an active member of the Getty Research Institute Council, the Getty Paintings Council, the World Affairs Council, and the Pacific Council on International Policy.  Ms. Thornhill’s extensive philanthropic work has address the needs of children affected by poverty, abuse and neglect, especially as Secretary of the Board of the Children’s Institute of Los Angeles.  She has promoted literacy, technology, and cultural programs through the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, as a board member of the West Los Angeles County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and as a leader of the National Children’s Chorus of Los Angeles and New York.  Ms. Thornhill attended the University of California at Los Angeles, George Washington University, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

The US Embassy in Singapore was headed for a time by Chargé d’Affaires ad interim  Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath  who served from January 20, 2017–July 26, 2019. On July 30, 2019, she was succeeded by senior U.S. diplomat Rafik Mansour  to be Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
If confirmed, Ms. Thornhill would succeed Ambassador Kirk W.B. Wagar (1969–) who was appointed during the second term of the Obama Administration and served in Singapore from September 25, 2013–January 20, 2017.
The last career diplomat appointed U.S. Ambassador to Singapore was J. Stapleton Roy (1935–) . who served from October 26, 1984–October 4, 1986. Yes, a very long time ago, though not the career service’s fault, of course.
Other appointees to this position include politicians Jon M. Huntsman Jr. (September 22, 1992–June 15, 1993), David Adelman (April 29, 2010–September 1, 2013), Patricia Louise Herbold (1940–) (December 29, 2005–January 20, 2009).
Given the GOP majority in the U.S. Senate, and the body’s underwhelming performance as the world’s greatest deliberative body, particularly when it comes to political and judicial nominees, it is likely that Ms. Thornhill will get confirmation at some point between now and election day.

U.S. Embassy Eritrea CDA Natalie E. Brown to be U.S. Ambassador to Uganda

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On July 30, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Natalie E. Brown of Nebraska, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Uganda. The WH released the following brief bio:
Ms. Brown, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, currently serves as the Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Eritrea.  She previously served as Deputy Permanent Representative and Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Italy, and as Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.  Ms. Brown also served overseas at the United States embassies in Jordan, Kuwait, Ethiopia, and Guinea.  In Washington, she served as Senior Watch Officer in the State Department Executive Secretariat’s Operations Center, International Affairs Officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and Desk Officer for the Office of West African Affairs in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.  Ms. Brown earned her B.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and M.S. from the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.  She speaks French and Arabic, and has studied Italian, German, Amharic, and Tigrinya.

If confirmed, Ms. Brown would succeed Deborah Ruth Malac (1955–) who was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Kampala from May 2015 until the present. Previous appointees to this position includes Scott H. DeLisi (1953–), Nancy Jo Powell (1947–) who later became DGHR, and Johnnie Carson (1943–) who later served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

 

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Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism Alina L. Romanowski to be to U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait

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On July 25, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Alina L. Romanowski, of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State of Kuwait. The WH released the following brief bio:
Ms. Romanowski, a career member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State. Previously, she served as the Coordinator for United States Assistance to Europe and Eurasia in the Department’s Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs, and the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development.  Ms. Romanowski was twice a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.  At the Defense Department, she was the founding Director of the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.
Ms. Romanowski earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago.  She is the recipient of a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award and two Presidential Meritorious Rank Awards.  She speaks French and has studied Arabic and Hebrew.

If confirmed, Ms. Romanowski would succeed Ambassador Lawrence R. Silverman who assumed his post as U.S. Ambassador  to Kuwait on September 19, 2016. Previous appointees  to this position includes Deborah Kay Jones (1956–)  who served from April 28, 2008–June 30, 2011; Matthew Haywood Tueller (1957–) who served from September 28, 2011–April 28, 2014 and is now U.S. Ambassador to Iraq; and Douglas Alan Silliman (1960–) who served from  September 15, 2014–August 3, 2016, and was previously the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq prior to retiring from the Foreign Service in 2019. He is now president of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

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