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President Biden Announces Key Nominees

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WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve as key leaders in his administration: 

  • Elizabeth Allen, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State
  • Joshua Jacobs, Nominee for Under Secretary for Benefits, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Ron Borzekowski, Nominee for Director of the Office of Financial Research, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • David J. Kostelancik, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Albania
  • Cynthia Kierscht, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Djibouti
  • Jennifer L. Johnson, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federated States of Micronesia 
  • Julie Turner, Nominee for Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, with the Rank of Ambassador
  • Liliana Ayalde, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation
  • Marcela Escobari, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation
  • Maria Fabiana Jorge, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation
  • Brian Nichols, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation
  • Julio Guity-Guevara, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation
  • Carol Moseley Braun, Nominee for Member and Chair of the United States African Development Foundation
  • Monde Muyangwa, Nominee for Member of the United States African Development Foundation
  • Kathryn Lang, Nominee for Member of the Social Security Advisory Board

Also today, the White House will renominate candidates who were not confirmed in the last Congress. Today’s transmission to the Senate will include nominees to serve in key agency leadership and bipartisan boards and commissions positions. The White House hopes the Senate will take action expeditiously.

Elizabeth Allen, Nominee for Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State

Liz Allen was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs by President Biden in 2021 and currently serves as Senior Official for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. A longtime communications and public affairs strategist, Allen was previously a partner at the strategic advisory firm FGS Global, where she specialized in message and advocacy strategy, reputation and crisis management, and executive leadership communications on a range of international public policy issues. Allen served in the Obama-Biden Administration for eight years, including as White House Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Assistant to President Barack Obama. She also was the White House Director of Message Planning and Deputy Director of Communications to then-Vice President Joe Biden. In 2020, Allen served on the Biden-Harris Presidential campaign as Vice President Kamala Harris’s Communications Director. Allen began her career at the U.S. Department of State in the Office of Global Women’s Issues and Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. During the Obama-Biden Administration, she served at the State Department as Director of Strategic Communications and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Allen graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Political Science from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and is a native of Buffalo, New York.

Joshua Jacobs, Nominee for Under Secretary for Benefits, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Joshua Jacobs serves as the Senior Advisor for Policy Performing the Delegable Duties of the Under Secretary for Benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In this role, he leads more than 25,000 Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) employees in the delivery of non-medical benefits programs. VBA provides disability compensation benefits to nearly 6 million veterans and their survivors and administers pension benefits for over 350,000 veterans and their survivors. Through a nationwide network of 56 regional offices, special processing centers, and VBA Headquarters, he oversees the execution of nearly $135 billion in direct benefits to veterans and their dependents. Josh previously served as Senior Advisor for Policy in the Office of the Secretary, where he helped to design and implement a new structure and process for enterprise governance and policy development. In this role, Josh established and chaired the new Evidence Based Policy Council, which meets on a regular basis to drive enterprise policy making. Josh also developed a new interagency policy development process to coordinate and implement more than 50 interagency policy efforts. Prior to rejoining the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2021, Jacobs was a Senior Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton. Jacobs also served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs during the Obama-Biden Administration, where he was awarded the Secretary’s Meritorious Service Award. Jacobs also served nine years in the U.S. Senate, including two years as Deputy Staff Director for the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Jacobs is a graduate of the University of Washington. He and his wife, Julia, have three children.

Ron Borzekowski, Nominee for Director of the Office of Financial Research, U.S. Department of Treasury

Ron Borzekowski is the inaugural Executive Director of Yale’s Data-Intensive Social Science Center and the Senior Research Scholar in the Economics Department and at the Institution for Social and Political Studies. Prior to Yale, Borzekowski was a Director of Economics at Amazon Web Services. During his time in public service, Borzekowski helped build and then lead the Office of Research at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Office supported the Bureau’s policy efforts with data and economic research about the financial decisions of consumers and households, and the functioning of financial markets. In that role, Borzekowski also served on the FSOC Deputies committee for the CFPB. Before that role, Borzekowski was a Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board. During part of that time, he was detailed as the Deputy Research Director for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, helping to draft the official government report documenting the history of the Housing and Financial Crises of 2007-2008. Borzekowski received his Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University and an M.P.P. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also holds a BA is in Mathematics and a BS in Political Science from Stanford.

David J. Kostelancik, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Albania

David J. Kostelancik, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Foreign Policy Advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley. Kostelancik previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission, and for two years, as Charge d’Affaires, ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Hungary. Other assignments include Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs and Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, both in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, as well as Director of the Office of Europe and Asia in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Earlier, Kostelancik was posted twice to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia. Other overseas postings include the U.S. Mission to the OSCE and the U.S. Mission to NATO, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana, Albania and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. A native of Illinois, he is a graduate of the National War College, where he earned a Master of Science. He also received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University. He speaks Russian, Hungarian, Albanian, and Turkish.

Cynthia Kierscht, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Djibouti

Cynthia Kierscht, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Prior to that, Kierscht was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and earlier was the Director of the Office of Canadian Affairs in the same bureau. In Africa, Kierscht served at the U.S. Embassies in Rabat, Morocco as Deputy Political Counselor, in Cairo, Egypt as a Political Officer, and as a Political Officer in the newly established U.S. Interests Section in Tripoli, Libya after intensive Arabic language training. She also worked as a Regional Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Counterterrorism in the State Department. Among her other assignments, Kierscht served at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia where she held such positions as Deputy Management Counselor, Cultural Affairs Officer, and Coordinator for the Summit of the Americas. Kierscht earned her B.A. degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and her M.P.P. from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government. Her foreign languages are Arabic, French and Spanish. 

Jennifer L. Johnson, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Federated States of Micronesia 

Jennifer L. Johnson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Management. Prior to that, she was Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director of the Office of Policy Coordination in the Bureau of Global Talent Management. Previously, Johnson served overseas in leadership positions at U.S. Embassies and Consulates in Cuba, Chile, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey. She has held domestic positions at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, the Office of the Under Secretary for Management, the Executive Secretariat, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the Bureau of Global Talent Management. Earlier in her career, Johnson was selected to participate in the Una Chapman Cox Sabbatical Leave Fellowship. A native of New York, Johnson earned a B.A. from Villanova University and studied abroad at the University of New South Wales in Australia. She is a graduate of the National War College where she earned an M.S. degree. Johnson speaks Spanish, Turkish, and Japanese.

Julie Turner, Nominee for Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, with the Rank of Ambassador

Julie Turner is the Director of the Office of East Asia and the Pacific in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor at the Department of State. Prior to that, she was Director for Southeast Asia at the National Security Council. Turner has served more than 16 years in the Office of East Asia and the Pacific, in positions of increasing responsibility, primarily focused on initiatives related to promoting human rights in North Korea, including a tour as Special Assistant in the Office of the Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues. She began her career at the Department of State as a Presidential Management Intern. Turner earned a B.A. at Pepperdine University, and an M.A. at the University of Maryland at College Park. She speaks French and Korean.  

Liliana Ayalde, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation

Ambassador Ayalde retired from the U.S. Foreign Service following a distinguished 38-year career with extensive experience in the Western Hemisphere. She dedicated her diplomatic career to foreign affairs, development, defense, and security in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most recently, Ayalde served as the civilian deputy to the Commander and Foreign Policy Advisor at the United States Southern Command in Miami until September 2019. She served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Federative Republic of Brazil. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Department of State. She was also the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin American and Caribbean Bureau for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Following her assignment as USAID Mission Director in Colombia, where she had responsibility for the development assistance portfolio under Plan Colombia, she was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay. Ayalde currently serves as Senior Advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and is a member of several boards such as the Wilson Center’s Latin America Program, Global Americans, IREX, and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Ayalde is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including USAID’s Distinguished Career Award, the Department of State’s Distinguished Service Honor Award, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Award. She has also been honored with recognitions by the governments where she served, including the Order of San Carlos by the Government of Colombia, the Order for Gran Cruz by the Government of Paraguay, and several recognitions by the Government of Brazil. Ayalde earned her B.A. from the School of International Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. and an M.P.H. from Tulane University in Louisiana. She is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has a working knowledge of French.

Marcela Escobari, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation

Marcela Escobari serves as the Assistant Administrator of USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. For over two decades, Escobari has led organizations focused on promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. As Assistant Administrator, she is spearheading USAID’s efforts to advance a collaborative, regional response to the historic displacement of seven million people across Latin America. Working within the United States and with regional partners, USAID is driving forward a three-pronged strategy focused on addressing the root causes of migration, expanding legal pathways, and promoting the integration of migrants into host communities. She is expanding the bureau’s efforts to help democratic reformers in the region deliver results for their citizens in the face of the economic contraction caused by COVID-19. Escobari served in this role under the Obama-Biden Administration, becoming the first woman to hold the job in USAID’s 60-year history.

Prior to serving in government, Escobari was Executive Director at the Center for International Development at Harvard University. Under her leadership, the Center launched the online platform the Atlas for Economic Complexity, focused on helping countries diversify their exports and unlock constraints to economic growth. Most recently, as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, she led the Workforce of the Future initiative to help workers prosper in the face of evolving labor markets. The World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader in 2013. She holds a B.A. in economics from Swarthmore College and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Maria Fabiana Jorge, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation

M. Fabiana Jorge is the Alternate Executive Director for the United States at the Inter-American Development Bank. Before joining the IDB, Jorge founded and served as president of MFJ International, LLC, a global consulting firm that has specialized in international business and foreign trade since 2000. Jorge has three decades of experience in trade negotiations with a focus on intellectual property and access to medicines. She has been involved in many trade negotiations, including the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the New Trade Policy of 2007, the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), the EU-Canada Comprehensive and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement.

Jorge was previously a Principal at Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson, and Hand, where she was the head of the Latin American Affairs Division. She was an adjunct professor at the University of El Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was born. Jorge holds a Bachelor degree in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations from Catholic University in Buenos Aires. She has a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University. Jorge is fluent in Spanish and French and has working knowledge of Portuguese. She moved to the United States over 30 years ago and resides in Washington, DC with her husband Doug and three kids, Christopher, Phillip, and Nicole.

Brian Nichols, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation

Brian A. Nichols has served as the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs since 2021. Nichols previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe. In that role, he promoted democracy, rule of law, and human rights in Zimbabwe while managing multi-dimensional humanitarian crises brought on by corruption, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, Nichols served as the U.S. Ambassador to Peru. There, he pioneered strategies against illegal gold mining, illegal logging, wildlife trafficking, and environmental degradation. He supported American trade and investment in Peru, increasing agricultural sales to over $1 billion annually, defending the rights of American investors, and building the Hemisphere’s largest public-private partnership, the U.S.-Peru Cacao Alliance.

Nichols was formerly Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). In that capacity, he oversaw the full range of rule of law programs, counter-narcotics, and multilateral issues managed by the bureau. He also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, where he managed day-to-day U.S. diplomatic activities in Colombia including overseeing over $500 million in annual assistance. Nichols led the Office of Caribbean Affairs, coordinating U.S. policy toward 14 Caribbean countries. Prior to that, he served as Political Counselor in Indonesia, as well as tours in Mexico and El Salvador during major democratic transitions. He began his Foreign Service career as a Consular Officer in Peru in 1989. A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Nichols has earned 27 awards during his diplomatic career, including a Presidential Distinguished Service Award, two Presidential Meritorious Service Awards, and the 2016 Charles E. Cobb, Jr. Award for Initiative and Success in Trade Development.

Julio Guity-Guevara, Nominee for Member of the Inter-American Foundation

Julio Guity-Guevara is the Maryland Regional Elections Manager for Casa in Action, where he focuses on achieving greater voter engagement among working-class members and communities of color. In 2021, he was appointed to serve at the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations of the U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce. In recent years, he has been serving as Managing Director of SUDECC, Inc., a consulting firm that promotes sustainable development and implements projects in vulnerable populations, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2020, he was selected as one of the top 40 Latinx experts in U.S. national security and foreign policy by the Diversity in National Security Network and New America. He was formerly appointed to serve as Deputy Director of the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs.
 
Guity-Guevara began his career in international development by joining the Organization of American States as an Attorney Fellow for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Subsequently, as a legal advisor and project attorney, he worked with the World Bank Group, the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank. While working at these organizations, he developed an expertise in international project finance, dispute settlement mechanisms, and small and medium sized enterprises. He holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from Washington College of Law, American University.

Carol Moseley Braun, Nominee for Member and Chair of the United States African Development Foundation

Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun was the first Black woman elected to the United States Senate. She has served at international, national, state, and local capacities for the U.S. government, such as Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Recorder of Deeds and Registrar of Titles of Cook County, Illinois, an Illinois State Representative, and Assistant United States Attorney.

Braun also has private sector experience, having founded and maintained her company, Good Food Organics, for over a decade. Her first job was as a grocery store checker, as her grandmother owned a grocery store in what is now called Bronzeville, Illinois. Her family has farmland in Union Springs, Alabama, and she remains involved with restoring the farm. Braun has worked in academia and with private law firms, however, she is most committed to public service. She serves on several public service boards and commissions, including the DuSable Museum of African American History, the World War I Commission Advisory Board, the Consecration Committee for the Episcopal Diocese, Our American Voices, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She holds several honorary degrees and awards. 

Monde Muyangwa, Nominee for Member of the United States African Development Foundation

Monde Muyangwa serves as the Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Africa. She has over 25 years of senior-level experience on African politics and U.S.-Africa relations, including working with African governments, international partners, civil society, academia, and private sectors in both the United States and African nations. Muyangwa most recently worked as the Director of the Africa Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where she led programs and research designed to analyze and offer practical, actionable options for addressing some of Africa’s most critical, current, and over-the-horizon issues; foster policy-focused dialogue about and options for stronger and mutually-beneficial U.S.-Africa relations; and challenge the dominant narrative about Africa by enhancing knowledge and understanding about the continent in the United States. Prior to joining the Wilson Center, Monde served as Academic Dean at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) at the National Defense University from 2002 to 2013, where she led and managed the Center’s programs on security studies, counter-terrorism and transnational threats, civil-military relations, defense economics, and conflict management. She also worked as Director of Research, and then Vice President for Research and Policy, at the National Summit on Africa where she led a policy-oriented nation-wide dialogue on Africa that culminated in a National Policy Plan of Action for U.S.-Africa Relations.

She holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and a B.A. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from the University of Oxford (England), as well as a B.A. in Public Administration and Economics from the University of Zambia. She is a Rhodes Scholar, a Wingate Scholar, and the University of Zambia Valedictory Speaker for her graduating class. Monde is a Zambia-born immigrant and long-time resident of Bowie in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Kathryn Lang, Nominee for Member of the Social Security Advisory Board

Kathryn Lang serves as Director of Federal Income Security in the Washington, D.C. Office of Justice in Aging, a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that uses the power of law to fight senior poverty. Since joining Justice in Aging, her advocacy has focused on improving the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, centering on the needs of people of color, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, those living with disabilities, immigrants, and those with limited English proficiency. Her areas of expertise include improving access to SSI benefits, the representative payee program, and language access issues at the Social Security Administration.

Prior to joining Justice in Aging, Lang was an attorney at the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau in Riverdale, Maryland, where she was an advocate for low-income older adults and persons with disabilities for several years. In previous positions, she worked as an attorney at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Bread for the City Legal Clinic, and Doherty, Cella, Keane, and Associates, LLP, all in Washington, D.C. She also served as a staff attorney at Legal Services of Northern California. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College and her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. She also has a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in teaching English to speakers of other languages.

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/01/23/president-biden-announces-key-nominees-36/

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