Appointments

November 2021

Elizabeth M. Allen | Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs
Elizabeth M. Allen, of New York, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs, Aug. 23. She was previously a partner at the strategic communications and public affairs firm Finsbury Glover Hering. In 2020, Allen served as Vice President Kamala Harris’ communications director on the Biden-Harris presidential campaign. She served during the Obama-Biden administration as White House deputy communications director and deputy assistant to the president. She also served as White House director of message planning and deputy director of communications to the vice president. Allen previously served at the Department of State as director of strategic communications and public affairs for the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, and in positions in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and Office of Global Women’s Issues. Allen received a B.A. from the State University of New York College at Geneseo.  

Rena Bitter | Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Rena Bitter (SFS), of the District of Columbia, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Aug. 11. Bitter previously served as dean of the Foreign Service Institute’s Leadership and Management School. Bitter served as ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, and chief of the consular section in Amman. She was director of the Operations Center, and special assistant to the secretary of state. She has also served at posts in London, Bogota, and Mexico City. Bitter has a B.S. from Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Southern Methodist University. She speaks Spanish, Arabic, and Vietnamese.  

Karen Erika Donfried | Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and Eurasian Affairs
Karen Erika Donfried, of the District of Columbia, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and Eurasian Affairs, Sept. 29. Since 2014, Donfried has served as the first female president of the German Marshall Fund. Prior to that, she served as special assistant to the president and as director of European Affairs at the National Security Council. She served as a national intelligence officer for Europe on the National Intelligence Council, as senior director of policy programs and executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund—which she first joined in 2001, and she also served ten years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service. From 2003 to 2005, Donfried served in the Department of State’s Policy Planning staff. Donfried has a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Tufts University, and a magister’s degree from the University of Munich. She speaks German. 

Brett M. Holmgren | Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research
Brett M. Holmgren, of Minnesota, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Sept. 14. Holmgren most recently served as deputy for nominations on the Biden-Harris Transition Team, and from 2017 to 2020, he served as vice president for technology risk management at Capital One Financial. He served on the National Security Council staff as special assistant to the president and senior director for intelligence programs, senior policy advisor to the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, and director for counterterrorism. At the Department of Defense, he served as special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense. Holmgren also served for eight years in the Intelligence Community as a senior analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency and, prior to that, as a counterterrorism analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. Holmgren has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a M.A. from Johns Hopkins University.

Daniel J. Kritenbrink | Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Daniel J. Kritenbrink (SFS), of Virginia, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Sept. 24. Kritenbrink previously served as ambassador to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from 2017 to 2021. A diplomat since 1994, Kritenbrink has served as senior director for asian affairs at the National Security Council, and  deputy chief of mission at Embassy Beijing. He also served overseas at posts in Beijing, Tokyo, Sapporo, and Kuwait City. His other Washington assignments have included director of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs and staff assistant to the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. Kritenbrink has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia. He speaks Chinese and Japanese. 

Jessica Lewis | Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs
Jessica Lewis, of Ohio, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, Sept. 29. Lewis previously served as democratic staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From 2007 to 2014, she was the national security advisor and foreign policy advisor, and then senior national security advisor to Senate Majority/Minority Leader Harry Reid. Lewis served as the senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Robert Menendez and, before that, the democratic staff director for the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Ranking Member Robert Menendez. She also worked as manager, new initiative development, and as manager, Net Corps America, at the Organization of American States. Lewis has a B.A. from Haverford College, an M.A. from John Hopkins University, and an M.P.A. from Harvard University.

Donald Lu | Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
Donald Lu (SFS), of California, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, Sept. 14. Previously he served as ambassador to the Krygyz Republic and ambassador to Albania. Prior to his posting in Albania, he served as deputy coordinator for Ebola Response in West Africa. Lu has served as deputy chief of mission in New Delhi, deputy chief of mission and the chargé d’affaires in Baku, and deputy chief of mission in Bishkek. Earlier, Lu was the deputy director of the Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs, and before that, the special assistant to the ambassador for the Newly Independent States. He also held postings in India, Georgia, and Pakistan. He also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone. Lu has a B.A. and an M.A. from Princeton University. He speaks Albanian, Russian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, West African Krio, Hindi, and Urdu.

Monica P. Medina | Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Monica P. Medina, of Maryland,was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Sept. 29. Medina previously served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and senior associate on the Stephenson Ocean Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Medina served as CEO and co-founder of the Our Daily Planet  e-newsletter. She has served as principal deputy under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and special assistant to the secretary of defense. Earlier in her career, Medina served as senior counsel to former-Senator Max Baucus on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, senior director for ocean policy at the National Geographic Society, and in senior roles in other environmental organizations. She attended college on an Army R.O.T.C. scholarship, and began her career on active duty in the Army General Counsel’s Office, after being selected for its Honors Program. Medina has a B.A. from Georgetown University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. 

Brian A. Nichols | Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Brian A. Nichols (SFS), of Rhode Island, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Sept. 14. Nichols previously served as the ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe from 2018 to 2021. Nichols began his career with the Foreign Service in 1989 as a consular officer in Peru. He served as political counselor in Indonesia, and served tours in Mexico and El Salvador during major democratic transitions. He has also served as ambassador to Peru, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and deputy chief of mission in Colombia. Nichols also led the Office of Caribbean Affairs. Nichols has a B.S. from Tufts University. 

Molly Phee | Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Mary Catherine Phee (SFS), of Illinois, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Sept. 29. Phee previously served as principal deputy special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. She has served as ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, deputy chief of mission in Addis Ababa, and 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 U.N. 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. She has also served at posts in Amman, Cairo, and Kuwait City. Phee has a B.A. from Indiana University, and a M.A.L.D. from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She speaks Arabic.

Todd D. Robinson | Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Todd D. Robinson (SFS), of New Jersey, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Sept. 29. Previously he served as director of the International Student Management Office at the National Defense University. Robinson served as senior advisor for Central America in the Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He also served as chargé d’affaires in Caracas, ambassador to the Republic of Guatemala, deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, deputy chief of Mission in Guatemala, consul general and principal officer in Barcelona, and chief of the political and economic section in Tirana. Robinson has also served at posts in the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Vatican City, Italy, El Salvador, and Colombia. Earlier in his career, he served in the Operations Center, and as special assistant to former-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. He has a B.S. from Georgetown University. He speaks Spanish, Italian, and Albanian. 

Gentry O. Smith | Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security
Gentry O. Smith (SFS), of Virginia, was appointed to serve as the new Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security, Aug. 11. Previously, Smith led security consulting firm The Gentry Group, LLC. He served as director of the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions, deputy assistant secretary for countermeasures in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. He also served as regional security officer in Tokyo, deputy regional security officer in Cairo, and regional security officer in Rangoon. He 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 in Cairo. Smith has a B.A. from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. 

October 2021

Jose W. Fernandez | Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment
Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, was appointed to serve as the new Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, United States Alternate Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and United States Alternate Governor of the Inter-American Development Bank, Aug. 10. He previously practiced law as a partner in the New York City office of Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. From 2009–2013, Fernandez served as an assistant secretary in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs. He has worked as a partner in the New York City office of Latham and Watkins, and as global chair of the firm’s Latin America practice. He has served as chair and co-chair on numerous boards. Fernandez has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Columbia University. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and French. 

Kenneth Lee Salazar | Ambassador to the United Mexican States
Kenneth Lee Salazar, of Colorado, was appointed to serve as the new Ambassador to the United Mexican States, Aug. 11. Salazar previously served as the 50th secretary of the interior from 2009–2013. He served in the U.S. Senate from 2004–2009, as Colorado attorney general in 1998, and he worked for a number of years as an attorney, including as chief legal counsel to Governor Roy Romer who appointed him as director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Salazar has a B.A. from Colorado College, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan.


September 2021

Bonnie D. Jenkins | Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Bonnie D. Jenkins of New York was appointed to serve as the new Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, July 22. Previously, Jenkins served as the coordinator for threat reduction programs in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. She was also the U.S. representative to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and chaired the Global Partnership in 2012. Prior to joining the Department of State, Jenkins served as a program officer for U.S. foreign and security policy at the Ford Foundation. She served as counsel on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks (more commonly known as the “9/11 Commission”), general counsel to the U.S. Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government, consultant to the 2000 National Commission on Terrorism, and a presidential management fellow serving in varying capacities in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget. She served as a legal advisor in the Office of General Counsel at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Law School, among other roles. She also served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and U.S. Naval Reserve for more than 20 years. Jenkins has a B.A. from Amherst College, a J.D. from Albany Law School, an M.P.A. from State University of New York, Albany, an LL.M. from Georgetown University, a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and has also attended The Hague Academy for International Law.  

Uzra Zeya | Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
Uzra Zeya of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, July 14. Zeya previously served as deputy lead for the Department of State’s Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition. From 2019–2021, she served as president and CEO of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a non-partisan global network of 130-plus organizations working in more than 180 countries to end conflict by peaceful means. Zeya has served with the Foreign Service as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires in Paris; principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor; chief of staff to the deputy secretary of state; political-military counselor in New Delhi; and deputy executive secretary to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. She has also served at posts in Syria, Egypt, Oman, Jamaica, and in various policy roles during her career. Zeya has a B.A. from Georgetown University. She speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish. 

June 2021

Victoria Nuland | Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
Victoria Nuland (SFS) of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, April 30. Nuland previously served as a senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm in Washington.  She was also a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a distinguished practitioner in grand strategy at Yale University, and a member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy. Nuland previously served with the Department of State as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs. She also served as Department spokesperson, ambassador to NATO, special envoy and chief negotiator on the Treaty on Conventional Arms Control in Europe, and as deputy national security advisor to the vice president from 2003–2005. In addition to two tours at NATO in Brussels, she served overseas in Russia, China, and Mongolia and has served in various assignments in Washington. Nuland earned a B.A. from Brown University. She speaks Russian and French. 

May 2021

Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley | Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer
Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley of Ohio was appointed to serve as the Department’s first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, April 12. Abercrombie-Winstanley served as ambassador to Malta from 2012–2016. Prior to that she was deputy coordinator for counterterrorism, director for Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, director of Middle East Area studies at the Foreign Service Institute, and she served as the first female consul general in Jeddah. Earlier in her career, Abercrombie-Winstanley served at posts in Baghdad, Jakarta, and Cairo, and she served as special assistant for Middle Eastern and African Affairs to the secretary of state. She also served in senior positions at the National Security Council and at The White House from 1998–2000, and prior to beginning her 30-year diplomatic career, she joined the U.S. Peace Corps as a volunteer in Oman. Abercrombie-Winstanley earned a B.A. from George Washington University, and an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University. She speaks Arabic and Maltese.

Brian P. McKeon | Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources
Brian P. McKeon of the District of Columbia was appointed to serve as the new Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, March 18. Previously he served as the senior director for Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington. McKeon served at the Department of Defense from 2014–2017 as principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, then acting under secretary of defense for policy. He served as executive secretary and chief of staff for the National Security Council, deputy national security adviser in the Office of the Vice President, Executive Office of the President, and democratic chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Earlier in his career, he served as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia. McKeon earned a B.A. from the University of Notre Dame and a J.D. from Georgetown University.   

Wendy Ruth Sherman | Deputy Secretary of State
Wendy Ruth Sherman of Maryland was appointed to serve as the new Deputy Secretary of State, April 14. Previously she served as a professor of the practice of public leadership and director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. She was a senior fellow at the school’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and a senior counselor at Albright Stonebridge Group. From 2011–2015, Sherman served as under secretary of state for political affairs. She previously served as a counselor for former-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, special advisor to former-President Bill Clinton and policy coordinator on North Korea, and as assistant secretary for Legislative Affairs. She served on the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, was chair of the Board of Directors of Oxfam America, and served on the Department of Defense’s Defense Policy Board and Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism. Sherman attended Smith College, and received a B.A. from Boston University and an M.S.W. from the University of Maryland.

April 2021

Linda Thomas-Greenfield | U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Linda Thomas-Greenfield (SFS) of Louisiana was appointed to be the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Feb. 24. Previously she served in the private sector as senior vice president at Albright-Stonebridge Group, a global business strategy and commercial diplomacy firm. Thomas-Greenfield has served the United States for 35 years as a career diplomat including as assistant secretary for African affairs, director general of the Foreign Service, director of human resources, and ambassador to Liberia. She has served at posts in Switzerland, Kenya, Nigeria, The Gambia, Pakistan, and Jamaica. Thomas-Greenfield has also served as principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Before joining the government, she taught political science at Bucknell University. Thomas-Greenfield has a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin.

March 2021

Julie D. Fisher | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus
Julie D. Fisher (SFS) of Tennessee was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus, Dec. 22. Fisher previously served as deputy assistant secretary for Western Europe and the European Union in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. She also temporarily served as the chargé d’affaires in Russia. Fisher has served as deputy chief of mission of the U.S. Mission to NATO in Belgium, chief of staff to the deputy secretary for management and resources, director of the Operations Center, deputy director of the Private Office of the Secretary General of NATO, counselor for political and economic affairs in Tbilisi, deputy executive secretary at the National Security Council, and as a desk officer to Georgia, Morocco, and Western Sahara. She held earlier assignments as a political officer in Moscow and as a consular and political officer in Kyiv. Fisher received a 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.

Brian D. McFeeters | U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia
Brian D. McFeeters (SFS) of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia, Jan. 5. McFeeters previously served as the deputy chief of mission in Baghdad. He has recently served as a senior advisor in the Office of the Counselor to the Secretary of State, principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and deputy chief of mission in Jakarta. Earlier in his career he served as the economic minister counselor of the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels and Baghdad, political counselor in Kuala Lumpur, deputy political counselor and North Korea Watcher in Seoul, and deputy director of the Office of Maritime Southeast Asia. McFeeters received a B.A. and a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S. from the University of New Mexico, and an M.A. from John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He speaks Malaysian, Indonesian, French, Spanish, and German.

David Reimer | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone
David Reimer (SFS) of Ohio was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone, Jan. 19. Reimer previously served as the ambassador to Mauritius and Seychelles. Before that, he served as director of the Office of West African Affairs, and he was deputy chief of mission in Nouakchott. Reimer has served as assessor in the Board of Examiners in the former-Bureau of Human Resources (now Bureau of Global Talent Management), senior refugee coordinator in Baghdad, deputy director of the Office of East African Affairs, and refugee and migration officer in Geneva. He has also served as an economic officer in Milan and Bonn, as a financial economist in the Office of Monetary Affairs. He did long-term economic training at the Foreign Service Institute. Before joining the Department, Reimer served for five years as an international affairs specialist at the Department of Agriculture. Reimer earned a B.A. from Goshen College and an M.P.I.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He speaks French, Italian, and German.

February 2021

C. Kevin Blackstone | U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
C. Kevin Blackstone (SFS) of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Jan. 5. Blackstone previously served as the executive director of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He has served as minister-counselor for management in Cairo, management counselor in Bangkok and New Delhi. He was the team leader of the U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Team in Wasit. Earlier in his career, Blackstone served as a refugee admissions program officer in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and was acting director of the Department of State’s domestic refugee processing center. He has served in other positions in Toronto, Canberra, Libreville, Kampala, Rome, and Lagos. Blackstone earned his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his M.P.A. from Syracuse University. He speaks French and Italian.

Antony John Blinken | U.S. Secretary of State
Antony John Blinken of New York was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Secretary of State, Jan. 26. In 2017, Blinken co-founded WestExec Advisors, a political strategy advising firm. Prior to that, he served as deputy secretary of state from 2015 to 2017 and deputy national security advisor from 2013 to 2015 during the Obama Administration. He has held numerous senior foreign policy positions during two administrations over two decades. Blinken served as assistant to the president and principal deputy national security advisor, deputy assistant to the president and national security advisor to the vice president, and he served six years on Capitol Hill as a democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was a member of former-president Bill Clinton’s national security council, special assistant to the president and senior director for European Affairs, special assistant to the president and senior director for speechwriting and then-strategic planning, and special assistant to the assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian Affairs. Earlier in his career, Blinken served as a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In the private sector, he has practiced law in New York and Paris, served as a reporter for “The New York Republic” magazine, and has written for numerous publications. Blinken earned his B.A. from Harvard University, and his J.D. from Columbia University. He speaks French. 

Cynthia Kierscht | U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Cynthia Kierscht (SFS) of Minnesota was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Jan. 5. Kierscht previously served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA). She has served as director of the Office of Canadian Affairs, deputy political counselor in Morocco, as a political officer in Cairo and Tripoli, and as a regional affairs officer in the Bureau of Counterterrorism. Among other assignments, Kierscht served as deputy management counselor, cultural affairs officer, and coordinator for the Summit of the Americas in Bogota. She was also a post-management officer for WHA, desk officer for Algeria, line officer on the secretariat staff, and a watch officer in the Operations Center. Kierscht received a B.A. from Carleton College and an M.P.P. from Harvard University. She speaks Arabic, French, and Spanish.

Geeta Pasi | U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Geeta Pasi (SFS) of New York was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Jan. 5. Pasi previously served as principal deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs. She has also served as ambassador to Chad and Djibouti, director of career development and assignments, director of the Office of East African Affairs, deputy chief of mission in Dhaka, and deputy principal officer in Frankfurt. Earlier in her career she served as a desk officer for Afghanistan in the Office of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh Affairs, a political officer in New Delhi and Accra, line officer in the Executive Secretariat office, desk officer for Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso, consular and political officer in Bucharest, and political-economic officer in Doula. Pasi received a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. from New York University. She speaks French, German, Hindi, Romanian, and Russian. 

Jonathan Pratt | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti
Jonathan Pratt (SFS) of California was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Djibouti, Dec. 22. Pratt previously served as the executive assistant to the under secretary for political affairs. He has served as deputy chief of mission in Islamabad and as office director for Pakistan Affairs. Earlier in his career, he served as a political counselor in Islamabad, deputy chief of mission in Brazzaville, chief of the Political and Economic Section in Khartoum, management officer in Luanda, general services officer in Amman, political and consular officer in Kinshasa, and as a presidential management intern in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. Prior to joining the government, Pratt was a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea-Bissau and a primary school bilingual teacher for Teach for America in Los Angeles. Pratt has a B.A. from Wesleyan University and an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego. He speaks Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

January 2021

Melanie Harris Higgins | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi
Melanie Harris Higgins (SFS) of Georgia was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi, Dec. 1. Since 2018, Higgins has served as the director of the Office of Central African Affairs. Prior to that, Higgins served as principal officer in Auckland and deputy chief of mission in Port Moresby. Earlier in her career, she served as the deputy political counselor and unit chief in Jakarta and acting director and acting public affairs advisor for the Office of Public Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She also held an assignment as the Thailand desk officer. Other postings included being seconded to the Office of the High Representative, Sarajevo, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, and she held assignments as a watch officer in the Operations Center in Australia and Cameroon. Higgins earned a B.A. from John Hopkins University and an M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. She speaks French, Indonesian, and Bosnian.

Lisa S. Kenna | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Peru
Lisa S. Kenna (SFS) of Vermont is the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Peru. Kenna previously served as executive secretary of the Department of State. Prior to that, she served as the executive assistant to the secretary of state and political adviser to the secretary of defense. She was the director of the Iraq Office on the National Security Council and she served as chief of the political section in Amman, in addition to assignments in Egypt, Pakistan, and Eswatini. Prior to joining the government, she was an attorney in private practice. Kenna earned a B.A. from Middlebury College and a J.D. at the University of Connecticut School of Law. She speaks Arabic, Dari, and Urdu.

Sung Y. Kim | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia
Sung Y. Kim (SFS) of California was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Indonesia, Aug. 31. Kim has served as ambassador in the Philippines since 2016. Prior to that, he served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. During his three decades with the Department, Kim has served as ambassador to Korea, special representative for North Korea Policy, special envoy for the Six Party Talks, vice consul in Hong Kong, and director of the Office of Korean Affairs. He has also served at positions in Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, and Washington. Kim earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, a J.D. from Loyola University Law School in Los Angeles, and an M.L. from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He speaks Korean and Japanese.

Jeanne Marie Maloney | U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini
Jeanne Marie Maloney (SFS) of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini, Dec. 1. Previously, Maloney served as the foreign policy advisor to the U.S. Army Africa in Vicenza. At the Department, she has served in numerous leadership positions, including director of the Office of Security Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs, director of the Office of Terrorist Screening and Interdiction in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, director of the Office of Fraud Prevention Programs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, and senior advisor in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. She has also served as deputy political-military counselor in Baghdad, a desk officer for Angola, Portugal, and the Vatican, a career development officer in the Bureau of Human Resources (now Bureau of Global Talent Management), consul in Brazilia, and consular officer in Lisbon and Kuwait. Maloney earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and basic Arabic.

Michael A. McCarthy | U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia
Michael A. McCarthy (SFS) of Virginia was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia, Dec. 1. Previously, he served as consul general in Johannesburg. McCarthy has served as deputy chief of mission in South Sudan and director of the Office of Retirement in the Bureau of Global Talent Management (previously Bureau of Human Resources). His earlier assignments included service as a management officer in Frankfurt, New Delhi, and Asmara. He served as area management officer of the East Africa Division in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings and Operations, and a country desk officer in the Office of West African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs. McCarthy also served in positions in Montevideo, Colombo, and Bangkok. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he served as vice president of marketing at Compro Systems, Inc. in Baltimore, Md. He was also a technical information specialist in the Executive Office of the President in addition to serving earlier as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo. McCarthy earned a B.S. from Tulane University. He speaks French, Spanish, and Thai.

James Broward Story | U.S. Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
James Broward Story (SFS) of South Carolina was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Dec. 1. Previously, Story served as chargé d’affaires of the Venezuela Affairs Unit in Bogota and chargé d’affaires in Caracas until operations were suspended in March 2019. Story served as consul general in Rio de Janeiro, director of International Narcotics and Law (INL) Enforcement for the Western Hemisphere, director or INL for Colombia, and senior civilian for Task Force Rakkasan in Regional Command-East Afghanistan. Story’s earlier assignments included service as a political/economic chief and deputy principal officer in São Paulo, regional environmental affairs officer for South America in Brasilia, officer in the Marine Conservation Office in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Scientific Affairs, and positions in Maputo, Guadalajara, and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Story earned a B.A./B.S. from South Carolina College at the University of South Carolina and an M.S. from Georgetown University. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Thomas Laszlo Vajda | U.S. Ambassador to the Union of Burma
Thomas Laszlo Vajda (SFS) of Arizona was appointed to serve as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Union of Burma, Dec. 1. Previously, Vajda served as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. He has served as consul general in Mumbai, deputy chief of mission in Burba, deputy coordinator of the Office of Assistance Coordination for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), and director of NEA’s Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative. Earlier in his career, he served as deputy office director of Australian, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, political-military affairs officer in the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and as political/economic section chief in Tirana. Vajda was also assigned as a desk officer in the Office of Japanese Affairs and in the Office of Korean Affairs. Vajda received a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. from Tufts University.


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