Biden names more ambassadorships, including Amy Gutmann for Germany

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President Joe Biden on Friday unveiled more nominees for ambassadorships, including for Germany, Kosovo and Ghana. The announcement confirmed murmurs about Biden’s plans to tap political philosopher Amy Gutmann as ambassador to Germany.

Gutmann’s nomination comes at a crucial time for the transatlantic relationship in the post-Trump era and just weeks before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit the White House. Her appointment would come more than a year after former President Donald Trump’s controversial ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, resigned from his job. If confirmed, Gutmann would be the first woman to hold the post.

Gutmann, 71, is an expert in political philosophy and since 2004 has served as the president of the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League with close ties to the president. While vice president, Biden launched his 2016 "Cancer Moonshot" program at the university's Abramson Cancer Center. He accepted an honorary professorship post at Penn after leaving the White House in 2017.

Gutmann was also present at the 2018 launch for the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, D.C., and Biden's daughter Ashley and grandaughter Naomi studied at Penn.

"As the daughter of a German Jewish refugee, as a first-generation college graduate, and as a university leader devoted to advancing constitutional democracy, I am grateful beyond what any words can adequately express to President Biden for the faith he has placed in me to help represent America’s values and interests to one of our closest and most important European allies," Gutmann said in a statement to the university community Friday evening, telling students and faculty that she would continue to serve as president until she's confirmed by the Senate.

Biden also named Chantale Wong as nominee for director of the Asian Development Bank, with the rank of ambassador. Wong, with more than 30 years of experience in international policy, including finance, technology, and the environment, has served under Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Wong was also appointed to senior roles in the Office of Management and Budget, Treasury, NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency. Wong is the first out lesbian and LGBTQ person of color to be nominated for an ambassador-level position, according to the Victory Institute.

Jeffrey Hovenier, a career foreign service member, was nominated for ambassador to the Republic of Kosovo. Hovenier serves as the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, and has served at missions in Croatia, Greece, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. He speaks German, Greek, Croatian and Spanish.

Virginia Palmer, another career member of the senior foreign service, is up for ambassador to the Republic of Ghana. Palmer is principal deputy assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. She was the U.S. ambassador for Malawi from 2015 to 2019.

The White House has dismissed criticism that Biden is running late with his ambassador nominations. Biden has now nominated more than 20 ambassadors, though many crucial roles including ambassadors to China and Iraq remain open.

The Biden administration has also said it intends to keep the ratio of career appointees to political appointees closer to the traditional 70 to 30 percent. All of Biden’s picks must be confirmed by the Senate.

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