The Foreign Service Journal, May 2021

12 MAY 2021 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Local Diplomacy” to expand diplomatic engagement across the United States. “This office would serve as the connec- tive tissue between state and local officials, urban and rural communities, and foreign policy leaders at the federal level,” the report states, and it would helpmake foreign policy more relevant to America’s middle class. The report also recommends the establishment of an “Office of Innovation Diplomacy,” connecting “decentralized innovation hubs across the country.” In her introductory letter, Truman Center CEO and President Jenna Ben- Yehuda, a former Civil Service officer, says the report provides “concrete recommen- dations grounded in the lived experience across the full range of State Department employment.” The report’s goals and recommenda- tions are mixed with powerful personal testimonials to give context. Co-chairs Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), Ambassador (ret.) Gina Abercrombie- Winstanley and Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) point to the need for a culture change at State that will require long-term bipartisan commitment. Read the full report at report. Filling Top Jobs T he Biden administration and Con- gress are slowly filling top foreign policy positions, with nominations lag- ging for many senior posts at the State Department and USAID. On March 26 President Biden announced his intent to nominate two career FSOs to top positions at State: Daniel J. Kritenbrink as assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs (EAP), and Brian A. Nichols as assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs (WHA). Uzra Zeya, a retired FSO, has been nominated to serve as under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights. On March 17 the president nomi- nated Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins as under secretary for arms control and international security, and Jose Fernan- dez—a former assistant secretary for economic, energy and business affairs— as under secretary for economic growth, energy and the environment. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Feb. 24 that the depart- ment would create a new chief diversity officer position. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) placed holds on top nominees in March, say- ing he would lift them only when the State Department said it would punish entities involved in the Nord Stream 2 Russia-to-Germany gas pipeline. Cruz released his hold on Brian McKeon—and the Senate unanimously confirmed him for Deputy Secretary for management and resources on March 18—but said he would maintain the hold on Deputy Secretary nominee Wendy Sherman until further sanctions are imposed against ships and compa- nies involved in the pipeline. Some positions that don’t need Sen- ate approval have been filled. On March 19, the State Department announced that Ambassador Pamela Spratlen, a career FSO, will oversee an investiga- tion into illnesses reported by diplomats serving in Cuba in 2017. On Feb. 4 President Biden named career FSO Tim Lenderking—who previously served as deputy assistant secretary for Gulf Affairs—as special envoy for Yemen. On March 22, career SFS officer Ricardo Zuniga was appointed to be special envoy for the Northern Triangle. On March 15, USAID announced that 19 political appointees had joined Continuing USAID’s Record USAID has a successful record of responding to emergencies, and we will count on the next Admin- istrator to put dollars provided for humanitarian assistance to good use. The agency has also done tremendous work in combatting food insecurity, expanding access to water, and empowering women to participate in their economies. —Senator James Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the March 23 confirmation hearing for USAID Administrator Samantha Power. Foreign Service Families Act Senator Sullivan and I [will] soon be reintroducing legislation we introduced last year, the Foreign Service Families Act. It’s to provide Foreign Service spouses and families serving overseas with the same opportunities that we rightly provide now to military spouses. —Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), at the SFRC nomination hearing for Brian McKeon on March 3. HEARD ON THE HILL JOSH