Posted: 2:27 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]
In March, the State Department’s Chief of Staff David Wade left his post to start an adventure in parenthood. Secretary Kerry released a statement on his departure.
Two days later, Jonathan Finer was officially appointed as Chief of Staff. He previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy.
The Travels With Secretary Kerry page indicates that he has travelled to 59 countries, logging 769,650 miles, and 339 travel days. So far, his total flight time is 1,671.18 hours or about 2.5 months spent flying around the world.
What’s this question about who’s running Foggy Bottom?
There’s the Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken as Foggy Bottom’s stay-at-home dad. Wait, he’s often traveling, too. As Secretary Kerry was on his way to Africa, D/Secretary Blinken was in Mexico:
But there’s Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources (D/MR) Heather Higginbottom as Foggy Bottom’s stay-at-home mom, right? We thought that’s the main reason why the State Department asked for a second deputy, so one is always home to mind the shop. But as Number #1 was on his way to Africa and Number #2 was in Mexico, D/MR Higginbottom was in Paris to mark the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) fourth annual International Jazz Day:
Foreign Policy’s John Hudson reported recently that when “Kerry crisscrossed the globe to various diplomatic hotspots during the first two years of his tenure, Wade rarely left Washington and instead consumed himself with the personnel and management decisions that go along with running a massive bureaucracy.” A State Department official also told FP that “Finer, will continue to travel with the secretary, albeit less frequently than in his previous role as deputy chief of staff.”
That’s raised concerns among some rank-and-file diplomats that no single point person will fully fill the role of Wade, leaving Foggy Bottom without a stay-at-home dad to make important decisions while Kerry’s abroad.
Hold it. No need to worry. More from FP:
A new key change, which hasn’t been previously reported, is Kerry’s appointment of two deputy chiefs of staff to assist Finer at home and abroad.
Tom Sullivan, the younger brother of Hillary Clinton’s loyal foreign policy adviser Jake Sullivan, became the new deputy chief of staff for policy this month. Formerly serving as a liaison between the State Department and Congress, Sullivan will advise Kerry on policy and join him on most of his foreign travel. That will allow Finer to remain in Washington more often.
Still, Finer, unlike Wade, will still play a significant role in traveling with the secretary and aiding his policy decisions — including on a trip this week to Africa and South Asia, according to one official.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Stout, formerly the chief of staff to the undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, has been named deputy chief of staff for management. In that role, Stout will assist Finer in his day-to-day management issues in Washington.
“We felt that two deputy chiefs of staff was the best way to structure our front office to meet the big challenges and opportunities of the last two years, and to advance the secretary’s priorities on the road and in the building,” said a senior State Department official.
“Smart move in my view,” said Ilan Goldenberg, who recently left the State Department as a member of the Israel-Palestine negotiating team.
Traditionally, Goldenberg said, the deputy chief of staff has traveled with the secretary and been a key policy advisor. Meanwhile, the chief of staff runs the politics, messaging, and internal management of the department, he said.
The new set-up, Goldenberg said, will delegate much of the internal dealings to the deputy. That will free the chief of staff to “do more big picture policy instead of constantly being forced to deal with tough management questions,” he added.
Sigh. Everyone is looking at doing policy.
Here are the new folks reportedly running Foggy Bottom.
Jonathan Finer| Chief of Staff
Term of Appointment: 03/08/2015 to present
Jon Finer is Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of State, where he previously served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy. He previously worked for four years at the White House, most recently as Senior Advisor to Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken. Before that he was Special Advisor for the Middle East and North Africa and Foreign Policy Speechwriter for Vice President Joseph R. Biden. He joined the Obama Administration in 2009 as a White House Fellow, assigned to the Office of the White House Chief of Staff and the National Security Council Staff.
Prior to entering government service, Jon was a foreign and national correspondent at The Washington Post, where he reported from more than 20 countries and spent 18 months covering the war in Iraq, embedding with the U.S. Marines during the 2003 invasion and based in Baghdad in 2005-2006. He also covered conflicts in Gaza (2009), Russia/Georgia (2008) and Israel/Lebanon (2006); the 2004 U.S. Presidential campaign; and the 2004 Major League Baseball playoffs.
Before the Washington Post, Jon spent a year in Hong Kong as a Henry Luce Foundation Scholar, working as a reporter and editor at the Far Eastern Economic Review. He has a law degree from Yale, where he co-founded the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project; an M.Phil. in international relations from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and an undergraduate degree from Harvard. He was born and raised in Norwich, Vermont.
Jennifer Park Stout | Deputy Chief of Staff
Term of Appointment: 03/11/2015 to present (see YouTube Video via US Embassy New Zealand)
Jennifer Park Stout serves as Deputy Chief of Staff to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Jennifer has served in a number of capacities both in and out of government. Most recently, Jennifer was Chief of Staff to Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel. Prior to that, she was Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
From 2012 to 2013 as Vice President of International Government Relations for MetLife, Jennifer supported government and industry relations and international business segments in the Asia Pacific. From 2010 to 2012, she was a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau at the State Department, leading the bureau’s public affairs and public diplomacy strategy.
Previously Jennifer was Senior Advisor and Director of Senate Affairs in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs at the State Department and spent 11 years on Capitol Hill, working as a legislative aide to then-Senator Joseph Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Senator Jim Webb, and Representative James Moran.
Jennifer holds a M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University and a B.A. from James Madison University.
Thomas D. Sullivan |Deputy Chief of Staff
Term of Appointment: ???
Mr. Sullivan does not appear to have an online bio at state.gov. He is currently listed as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs.
According to FP, Tom Sullivan is “the younger brother of Hillary Clinton’s loyal foreign policy adviser” Jake Sullivan. The older brother previously served as Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and also as deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. One other interesting connection here: like Jake Sullivan, the new Chief of Staff Jon Finer has a law degree from Yale. Both have a M.Phil. from Oxford, and both were Rhodes Scholars.
Back to the younger brother — Senator Amy Klobuchar, the senior Senator from Minnesota gave a Tribute to Tom Sullivan during the 112th Congress on the occasion of his departure from the Senate and his move to the State Department.
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I rise today to recognize the exceptional leadership and dedication of my deputy chief of staff Tom Sullivan, who has been with me since my first days in the Senate and will soon be leaving to accept a senior adviser role at the U.S. State Department.
To say that Tom will be missed would be an understatement. Over the last 6 years, he has distinguished himself as an invaluable member of my staff, rising through the ranks and filling many key roles along the way. He started out as a legislative assistant, but it wasn’t long before he was serving as my deputy legislative director and, eventually, my deputy chief of staff.
In many ways you could call Tom the nerve center of my office–the utility player who can step in and perform virtually any task that is asked of him, regardless of whether it is press strategy or scheduling or legislative analysis. No policy was ever too complex for him, no assignment too daunting, no challenge too thorny.
Tom’s versatility is especially apparent in his knowledge of policy, which spans the full spectrum of State and Federal issues. He came to my office with a background in foreign relations but quickly became an expert in everything from energy to technology to health care, mastering and remembering even the most minute of details without losing sight of the forest for the trees. That is a rare talent, and Tom has it in spades.
Mr. President, as you know, Senate offices often become like their own little family units. In the last 6 years, Tom Sullivan has become an esteemed member of the Klobuchar family, and he will be sorely missed–not just for his skill and expertise but for his composure, kindness, and unflappable good nature. We wish Tom well in his new position at the State Department and know that we can expect to see great things from him as he begins a new and exciting journey in public service.
We should note that the new COS Jon Finer is currently traveling with Secretary Kerry on his trip to Sri Lanka, Kenya and Djibouti.
Now we’re just waiting for the announcement of four new special assistants assisting the two newly appointed deputy chief of staff.
So serious question. Who’s interested in addressing the “tough management questions” and fixing whatever is broken in the building? Anyone?