New US ambassador-designate to Bulgaria named

United States President Joe Biden has nominated career diplomat Kenneth Merten to be the next US ambassador to Bulgaria, according to an announcement on the official White House website on June 8.

Merten was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but moved to Hudson, Ohio when he was 12, and considers Hudson his home

Merten has a BA from Miami University in Ohio, and a Masters in Public Administration from American University in Washington, DC. He has studied at the Université d’Aix-Marseille in France and at Karl Franzens Universitaet in Austria 

In 1987, Merten joined the United States Foreign Service.[

A two-time ambassador, he was the US ambassador to Croatia, from 2012 to August 2015, and before that was US ambassador to Haiti from 2009 to July 2012.

He also served as a Deputy Executive Secretary to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and earlier to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

He was awarded the 2011 Ryan C. Crocker Award for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy for his extraordinary leadership in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

In serving as ambassador to Haiti, Merten oversaw the US government’s on-the-ground efforts to provide immediate relief after the earthquake through a presence of 8000 US military personnel as well as hundreds of other professionals drawn from many other US government agencies including the US Agency for International Development.

In the days after the earthquake, he also oversaw the largest evacuation of American citizens since the Second World War.

Merten was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Global Talent Management, Office of the Director General, from January 20 2021 to October 27 2021.

His overseas assignments include the US embassy in Paris, the US mission to the European Union in Brussels, the US embassy in Bonn at the time of German unification, and three tours at the US embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Merten’s Washington experience includes two assignments in the State Department Operations Centre, which responds to unfolding international emergencies, ensures senior State Department officials are kept abreast of breaking events, and supports the daily work and travel of the Secretary of State.

He also has served in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs and on the Cuba Desk, and worked for the Special Advisors on Haiti in 1993-1994.

Merten’s appointment as US ambassador in Sofia is subject to confirmation by the US Senate, following a hearing by the foreign affairs committee.

(Photo: US embassy Haiti)

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