Officially In: John Berry – From OPM to Australia

◉  By Domani Spero

On June 21, President Obama announced his intent to nominate John Berry as the next Ambassador to Australia. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Berry served as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management from April 2009 to April 2013.  Previously, he was the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park from 2005 to 2009, and the Executive Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation from 2000 to 2005.  From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Berry served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management, and Budget at the Department of the Interior.  From 1995 to 1997, he was Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor at the Smithsonian Institution.  He joined the federal government in 1994 as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement at the Department of Treasury.  Before joining the Department of Treasury, Mr. Berry was the Legislative Director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer.

Mr. Berry received a B.A. from the University of Maryland, College Park and an M.P.A. from Syracuse University.

Via Federal News Radio:

“On John Berry’s final day as director of the Office of Personnel Management, the consensus from federal employees and employee groups he has worked with the past four years is that his shoes will be hard to fill. Those interviewed by Federal News Radio said he has been the utmost advocate for feds in a tough political climate of furlough talk, budget negotiations and a rebounding economy.”

The advocate.com notes that Mr. Berry’s OPM appointment (2009-2012) made him the highest-ranking openly gay official in the Obama executive branch. It quotes HRC president Chad Griffin praising the nomination: “John Berry has been a devoted public servant for 30 years and will bring tremendous experience to our embassy in Canberra.”

Mr. Berry’s confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, July 23 at 9 am.  If confirmed, Mr. Berry would succeed Jeffrey Bleich, California lawyer and former Special Counsel to President Obama who was appointed to the US Embassy in Canberra in November 2009.  Since 1960, 72.2% of all ambassadorial appointments to Australia went to non-career appointees.

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Related item:

June 21, 2013 President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

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US Embassy Canberra: What do Ambassadors actually do?

Via US Embassy Canberra/FB with our Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey L. Bleich:

Photo from US Embassy Australia
(click on image for larger view)

Photo of the Day: Ambassador “Volunteers” as Orange Member of The Wiggles

Below is Jeffrey L. Bleich, our Ambassador to Australia on his recent encounter at the Canberra Theater (via US Mission Australia/FB). If you got kids of a certain age, you will remember The Wiggles, and Dorothy, the purple dinosaur:

Ambassador Bleich with The Wiggles
(Photo from US Embassy Canberra/FB)

Ambassador Bleich: Today i got a brilliant opportunity to meet the Wiggles before their concert in Canberra. They are an amazing group and wonderful ambassadors both here and around the world. I noticed they didn’t have an orange member so i volunteered myself for that role! Fingers crossed.

Richard Hoskins Did you sing or dance?     April 4 at 11:25pm

Stephen Devine Dont give up the day job in the hope they call……     April 5 at 12:08am

Ambassador Bleich The Wiggles are brave, but they aren’t crazy. No parent wants to subject their child to my dancing.     April 10 at 5:08pm

Looks like they’re all having fun!

Domani Spero