President-elect Joe Biden is expected to announce Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a longtime Black diplomat, as ambassador to the United Nations in a move to affirm his commitment to a diverse Cabinet.
Greenfield has worked as a foreign service officer since the Reagan administration. She served as ambassador to Liberia, and as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2013-2017. She was instrumental in shaping U.S. foreign policy during the Ebola crisis in West Africa. After leaving the federal government, Greenfield took a senior leadership position at Albright Stonebridge Group, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s global strategy firm.
Greenfield’s appointment is also an attempt to restore faith in the State Department after the tumult of the Trump administration. Greenfield and fellow diplomat William J. Burns recently wrote a piece in Foreign Affairs magazine titled, “The Transformation of Diplomacy: How to Save the State Department.”
“In Washington, career public servants who worked on controversial issues during the Obama administration, such as the Iran nuclear negotiations, have been smeared and attacked, their careers derailed,” they write. “To start, the United States needs a top-to-bottom diplomatic surge. The Trump administration’s unilateral diplomatic disarmament is a reminder that it is much easier to break than to build. The country doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for a generational replenishment, marking time as new recruits slowly work their way up the ranks.”
Biden is expected to officially announce the appointment on Tuesday. He will also announce other key members of his cabinet which are anticipated to include Alejandro Mayorkas, a Latino, as head of Homeland Security, and Avril Haines as the first female director of national intelligence. John Kerry is expected to be named special presidential envoy on climate.
Sources: Reuters 11/22/20; CBS News 11/23/20; NYT 11/23/20