President Biden Announces Key Nominees
WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve as key leaders in his administration:
- Ann Carlson, Nominee for the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Mike Sfraga, Nominee for Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs
- Robin Dunnigan, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia
- Heather Catherine Variava, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
- Lisa A. Johnson, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Lebanese Republic
- Nicole Shampaine for the rank of Ambassador during her tenure of service as United States Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
- Patricia L. Lee, Nominee for Member of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
- Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
- Robert David Gioia, Nominee for Commissioner of the International Joint Commission
Ann Carlson, Nominee for the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Ann Carlson has served as the Acting Administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since September 2022. Carlson oversees the nation’s vehicle safety agency, which makes cars and trucks safer by setting safety standards, identifying safety defects, and recalling unsafe vehicles. NHTSA also awards hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to State Highway Safety Offices, and educates Americans to help them drive, ride, and walk safely. As Acting Administrator, Carlson also directs the setting of fuel economy regulations for cars and trucks, and leads the testing and deployment of advanced vehicle technologies. Carlson previously served as NHTSA’s Chief Counsel. She issued a groundbreaking Standing General Order requiring timely reporting of safety data on vehicles equipped with automated driving systems and advanced driver assistance systems, initiated rulemaking to require automatic emergency braking in heavy-duty vehicles and pedestrian automatic emergency braking in light-duty vehicles, and helped secure a historic 50% increase in resources for the agency under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Carlson also oversaw the issuance of the strongest year-over-year increases in fuel economy standards in NHTSA’s history, as directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 13990.
Before joining NHTSA, Carlson served on the faculty at the UCLA School of Law as the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law, and later founded and co-directed the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. She has won three teaching awards, including the highest honor awarded by UCLA. She also spent five years in private practice.
Carlson graduated magna cum laude from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Harvard Law School, has co-authored a leading environmental casebook, co-edited a book ‘Lessons from the Clean Air Act,’ and written numerous publications. She is married to Carl Moor, an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeals, and has two children.
Mike Sfraga, Nominee for Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs
Michael Sfraga is the Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, to which he was appointed by President Biden in 2021. Sfraga was the founding director of the Polar Institute and concurrently served as Director of the Global Risk and Resilience Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He currently serves as the Institute’s Chair and Distinguished Fellow. An Alaskan and a geographer by training, his work focuses on the changing geography of the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes, Arctic policy, and the impacts and implications of a changing climate on political, social, economic, environmental, and security regimes in the Arctic. Sfraga served as distinguished Co-lead Scholar for the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative from 2015 to 2019, a complementary program to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. He served as Chair of the 2020 Committee of Visitors Review of the Section for Arctic Science, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and he currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs. Sfraga previously served in several academic, administrative, and executive positions at the University of Alaska including Vice Chancellor, Associate Vice President, faculty member, Department Chair, and Associate Dean. He earned the first Ph.D. in Geography and Northern Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Robin Dunnigan, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Georgia
Robin Dunnigan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Central and Eastern Europe in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. Prior to this, she served as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria. Previously, she was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources. Earlier assignments include U.S. Embassies in Vietnam, Chile, Turkey, Cuba, and El Salvador. In Washington, Dunnigan’s assignments include Director for the Office of Europe, the Western Hemisphere and Africa in the Energy Bureau, as well as positions in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and on the staff of the Secretary of State in the Executive Secretariat. Dunnigan is the recipient of numerous State Department performance awards, including two Senior Foreign Service Performance Awards. A native of California, she is a distinguished graduate of the National War College, where she earned a Master of Science degree. She also received a Master of Science from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of California at Berkeley. She speaks Spanish and German.
Heather Catherine Variava, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Heather Roach Variava, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. Previously, Variava served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, and as the U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, Indonesia. In Washington, Variava was the Director of the Office of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. She also worked at the State Department Operations Center and on the Thailand desk. Overseas assignments include postings at U.S. Missions in India, Mauritius, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. A native of Iowa, she received an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She has Master’s degrees from the University of Missouri and from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. Variava also received a Master of Science from the National War College and completed a fellowship in executive leadership with the International Women’s Forum. She speaks Indonesian and has studied French, German, and Vietnamese.
Lisa A. Johnson, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Lebanese Republic
Lisa A. Johnson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) at the Department of State. Prior to that, she was Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the National War College. Previously, she was Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia and Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim in Nassau, The Bahamas. She served earlier as INL Office Director for Africa and the Middle East, Senior Advisor for South/Central Asia in the Office of the Vice President, and National Security Council Director for Middle East Affairs. Other overseas assignments include Islamabad, Beirut, Pretoria, and Luanda, as well as the Office of the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. A native of Iowa, she has an A.B. degree from Stanford University and an M.I.A. degree from Columbia University. Johnson also earned an M.S. degree from the National War College. Her languages are French and Portuguese.
Nicole Shampaine for the rank of Ambassador during her tenure of service as United States Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
Nicole Shampaine is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor. She currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Prior to that, she was assigned to the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, Austria, where she served as Deputy Chief of Mission as well as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim. Shampaine has also worked as the Senior Advisor on Counterterrorism for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, as Director for Assistance to the Near East and Asia for the Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration and as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq. Among her previous assignments, Shampaine has worked as Director of the Office of Egypt and Levant Affairs, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, as the Deputy Director of the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, and as Counterterrorism Director for the Middle East and Southeast Asia on the National Security Council Staff. Shampaine earned her Bachelor’s and her Master’s degrees from Stanford University. Her foreign languages include French, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Turkish.
Patricia L. Lee, Nominee for Member of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
Patricia L. Lee has over thirty years of experience in radiation protection and nuclear safety. Lee has served for twenty-three years at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) and nearly a decade at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conducting and overseeing research and development associated with many of the nation’s largest nuclear facilities. She currently serves as the Portfolio Manager for the SRNL Digital Enterprise, delivering an integrated computing strategy for the Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology. Prior to this, she was manager of advanced computational research and development organizations supporting safe operation of nuclear facilities, deploying high performance computing solutions at SRNL. Still further, Lee served as the SRNL interim Director of the Chief Information Office. She has been appointed to two Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignments at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C. as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Environmental Management (EM), serving as the liaison to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and as Senior Technical Advisor in EM’s Technology Development Program. Lee has also been a Senior Service Fellow for the CDC dose reconstructions, where she evaluated the impacts of the Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons facilities on human health and the environment.
Lee has served on a variety of technical, non-technical, and community affiliated boards, including election to the Board of Directors of the Health Physics Society and appointment to the Department of Health and Human Services Citizens Advisory Committee on Public Health Service Activities and Research at DOE sites. Lee served as a Visiting Professor in Nuclear Engineering at South Carolina State University. A native of Springfield, Massachusetts, Lee holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering/Health Physics and M.S. in Health Physics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Physics from Clark Atlanta University, and a B.S. in Physics from Lincoln University.
Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, Nominee for Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission
Rebecca Kelly Slaughter was sworn in as a Federal Trade Commissioner in 2018, where she brought to the Commission extensive experience in competition, privacy, and consumer protection. Slaughter builds consensus for a progressive vision, and staunchly advocates for American consumers and workers. She believes that the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) dual missions of promoting competition and protecting consumers are interconnected and complementary, and she is mindful that enforcement or rulemaking in one arena can have far-reaching implications for the other. A proponent of greater resources, transparency, and comprehensive use of the FTC’s authorities, Slaughter is outspoken about the growing threats to competition and the broad abuse of consumers’ data. Targeted merger retrospectives, corrective enforcement, and expansion of the Commission’s rulemaking authorities are among the approaches that she championed during her time at the FTC. Along with advocating for consumers, particularly those traditionally underrepresented and marginalized, Slaughter strongly supports working families and work-life balance. Before joining the FTC, Slaughter served as Chief Counsel to Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the Democratic Leader. Before entering federal service, she was an Associate in the D.C. office of Sidley Austin, LLP. Slaughter received her B.A. in Anthropology magna cum laude from Yale University and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as an editor on the Yale Law Journal. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their four children.
Robert David Gioia, Nominee for Commissioner of the International Joint Commission
Robert D. Gioia has been an influential community leader dedicated to the betterment of the Buffalo-Niagara region for decades, leading many of the region’s most consequential initiatives. He recently retired after 15 years as the President of the John R. Oishei Foundation, one of the most comprehensive private foundations in Western New York. Gioia is Chair of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation, overseeing the revitalization of Buffalo, New York’s waterfront that now attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually. He also serves as Chair of Great Lakes Health, a nonprofit that oversees some of the area’s largest health care and research partners to improve access to and the quality of health care delivery. While Chair of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Gioia pioneered the completion of the $120 million Buffalo-Niagara International Airport on time and under budget. His career began in 1970 when he joined his two older brothers as the third-generation in his family to run the Gioia Macaroni Company, and later as a Vice President of Red Wing Foods. He then was a Principal with the Food Group of Strategic Investments and Holdings, Inc., one of the most experienced equity acquisition firms in the nation. Gioia is Chair of Buffalo Center for Arts & Technology and a Board member of Daemen University. He has also served as Chairman of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, Board President of the Martin House Restoration Corporation, Board Chair of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Board President of Nichols School, and a Trustee of St. Lawrence University.