U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has tapped Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a widely respected career Foreign Service officer, to fill the department’s top Africa post.
The Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs oversees the Africa Bureau and U.S. diplomatic missions and focuses on managing and directing policy.
Thomas-Greenfield, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia from 2008 until 2012, previously served in Jamaica, Nigeria, Gambia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Switzerland and was principal deputy in the Africa Bureau (2006 to 2008) and deputy secretary in the Population Bureau (2004-2006).
Thomas-Greenfield was first offered the job soon after Kerry took office on February 1 but preferred to remain in her current position. She is Director General of the Foreign Service, overseeing human resources and personnel functions for the State Department’s 60,000-person workforce, and she had substantive work underway there.
She agreed to be named to lead the Africa Bureau as pressure on the administration to fill this and other posts mounted. The number of senior vacancies at State more than three months into the second Obama term has drawn criticism from Congress and attention in the press.
The Africa Bureau, which handles U.S. relations with 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, was headed during President Obama’s first term by Johnnie Carson, a former ambassador to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda, who left office on March 29. Donald Yamamoto, who was Carson’s senior deputy and is a former ambassador to Ethiopia, is currently acting assistant secretary.