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).
Confirmed, 91-7: Executive Calendar #525 Michael George DeSombre to be Ambassador of the U.S. to the Kingdom of Thailand
— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) January 8, 2020
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.