THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 19, 2009
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:
- Matthew Barzun, Ambassador to Sweden
- John R. Bass, Ambassador to Georgia
- Ertharin Cousin, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture with the rank of Ambassador during her tenure of service
- James B. Foley, Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia
- Kenneth E. Gross, Jr. Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan
- Samuel L. Kaplan, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco
- Jerry P. Lanier, Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda
- Teddy B. Taylor, Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea
President Obama said, "I am grateful that these fine individuals will serve in my administration and I am confident that they will well represent our nation abroad and help strengthen our relationships within the international community. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:
Matthew Barzun, Nominee for Ambassador to Sweden
Mr. Barzun is the president at BrickPath LLC, where he advises and invests in Internet media companies. Prior to BrickPath, Mr. Barzun served as the Executive Vice President for CNET Networks' Business Technology group. Mr. Barzun was responsible for helping further cement the leadership position of CNET Networks' business technology brands, including News.com, ZDNet, TechRepublic, and Builder.com. Prior to that position, Mr. Barzun was chief strategy officer of CNET Networks, where he advised the CEO and the executive committee on business and organizational alignment across the company's divisions, including leading the efforts to define and communicate the company's mission, values, and corporate goals. Mr. Barzun graduated magna cum Laude from Harvard College.
John R. Bass, Nominee for Ambassador to Georgia
John Bass has led the Provincial Reconstruction Team-Baghdad, a joint team of civilians and military personnel supporting the government and citizens of Baghdad province, since July 2008. Prior to serving in Iraq, Mr. Bass served as Director of the State Department Operations Center for three years, coordinating the State Department’s response to crises threatening American embassies, personnel and citizens. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Bass also has served in Italy, Belgium and Chad. In Washington, his assignments include a detail to the Office of the Vice President as Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia, Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott and special assistant to the Deputy Secretary for Europe and Eurasia. Other assignments at the State Department include work on Turkey, Cyprus, NATO-Russia relations and conventional arms reductions in Europe. Mr. Bass joined the Foreign Service in 1988. Born and raised in upstate New York, Mr. Bass holds a B.A. from Syracuse University.
Ertharin Cousin, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture with the rank of Ambassador during her tenure of service
Ertharin Cousin currently serves as President of The Polk Street Group, a national public affairs firm located in Chicago, Illinois. Cousin is a national leader in the domestic hunger relief community, and served as one of the leading African American corporate executives in the retail food community. She has served as the Executive Vice-President and COO of America' Second Harvest, now known as Feeding America (2004-2006), board member for America's Second Harvest (2002-2004), and a member of Board for International Food and Agriculture Development (1997-2000). Her professional experiences in retail food have included assignments as Senior Vice President Public Affairs, Albertsons Foods (2001-2004); Group Vice President Public Affairs, Albertsons Foods (1999-2001); Vice-President Government and Community Affairs, Jewel Food stores (1997-1999). During her service as White House Liaison at the State Department (1994-1996), Cousin was awarded the Meritorious Service Award. Before coming to Washington, she served as Assistant Illinois Attorney General, Deputy Director of the Chicago Ethics Board and a member of the affirmative action enforcement team at the Water Reclamation District. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Cousin is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Georgia School of Law.
James B. Foley, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia
James B. Foley, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as the State Department’s Senior Coordinator for Iraqi Refugee Issues since 2007, working to alleviate the plight of several million Iraqis displaced by the war. Previously, Mr. Foley served as faculty member and Deputy Commandant of the National War College from 2006-2007, as Diplomat-in-Residence at the State University of New York at Fredonia from 2005-2006, and as U.S. Ambassador to Haiti from 2003-2005. He joined the Foreign Service in 1983 and served overseas as vice consul and political officer in Manila, Philippines from1984-1986 and as political officer in Algiers, Algeria from1986-1988. Mr. Foley was subsequently a speechwriter and adviser to former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger from 1989-1993 and Deputy Director of the Private Office of the NATO Secretary General in Brussels, Belgium from 1993-1996. He was special assistant to the late Senator Paul Coverdell from 1996-1997 under the State Department’s Pearson Fellowship program, and served as State Department Deputy Spokesman and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs from 1997-2000. Mr. Foley received his B.A. from the State University of New York at Fredonia and an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Kenneth E. Gross, Jr. Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Tajikistan
Kenneth Gross currently serves as a Career Development Officer for senior-level officers in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State. A career Senior Foreign Service Officer, he joined the Department in 1987. His previous overseas diplomatic assignments include Principal Officer at the U.S. regional office in Basrah, Iraq, Deputy Chief of Mission in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, and tours in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kathmandu, Nepal, and Frankfurt, Germany. Mr. Gross’s Washington assignments include Director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative Office, aviation negotiator in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and desk officer for Austria and Germany in the Bureau of European Affairs. Mr. Gross earned a B.A. from Auburn University, a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law, and a M.S. from the National War College.
Samuel L. Kaplan, Nominee for Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco
Mr. Samuel L. Kaplan is a founding member of Kaplan, Strangis and Kaplan, P.A. established in 1978. Clients of the firm include TCF Bank Savings fsb, The Minnesota Twins, Adams Affinity Group, Liberty Diversified Industries, Caldrea Home Care, Polaris Industries, Inc., Lupient Automotive Enterprises, and Davisco Foods International, Inc. Mr. Kaplan has served for over 25 years as General Counsel for the Minnesota Wine and Spirits Association. Mr. Kaplan received his B.B.A. degree in accounting with distinction from the University of Minnesota and his J.D. degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Minnesota where he was president of the University of Minnesota Law Review, and received the Order of the Coif. He served as an adjunct professor of law during the early years following law school graduation. He is often a visiting lecturer at law school classes and speaker at continuing legal education programs.
Jerry P. Lanier, Nominee for Ambassador to the Republic of Uganda
Jerry P. Lanier is a career diplomat with 26 years of service in the Department of State. He is currently the Foreign Policy Advisor for U.S. Africa Command headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Prior to that, he was the Director of the Office of Regional and Security Affairs in the Africa Bureau at the State Department. Mr. Lanier has also served in the Philippines, Kenya, Thailand, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Ghana. At State he has served as the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, country officer for the Republic of Korea, Legislative Management Officer for Africa, Deputy Director for the Office of West African Affairs, and Deputy Director for the Office Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh Affairs. He received his B.A. at Pembroke State University, his M.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served three years as lecturer in the history department of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Teddy B. Taylor, Nominee for Ambassador to the Solomon Islands, the Republic of Vanuatu, and Papua New Guinea
Teddy Taylor has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Human Resources since June 2006. Immediately prior to this post, Mr. Taylor was Director of the Office of Employee Relations in the Bureau of Human Resources. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Mr. Taylor began his diplomatic career in 1978. He has served as US Consul at the American Embassy in Budapest and the US Interest Section in Havana. Other assignments abroad include service as a consular officer at the US Embassies in Guatemala, Panama and Honduras. Mr. Taylor’s domestic assignments include: Director of the Orientation Division at the Foreign Service Institute, Special Assistant in the Office of Visa Services in the Bureau of Consular Affairs, Deputy Examiner, Board of Foreign Service Examinations, Bureau of Human Resources, Deputy Director for East Asian and Pacific Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources, Deputy Policy Officer for Latin America at the former United States Information Agency and Deputy Director of Press and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Mr. Taylor holds a BS from Florida A&M University and is a life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.