These are President Trump’s top officials for Africa

Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Simon is an investigative journalist and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA L.L.C. based in Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A. His twitter handle is @simonateba and his email is simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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President Donald Trump may be the one often in the media but there are many career diplomats in the United States whose job is to coordinate operations, advise the administration and implement U.S. policies on the continent.

At the United States Department of State in Washington DC, there are six of them who are in charge of the various regions on the continent.

TODAY NEWS AFRICA highlights who they are and where they are coming from.

Tibor P. Nagy, Jr.

Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African AffairsTerm of Appointment: 07/23/2018 to present

Tibor P. Nagy, Jr.

Ambassador Nagy, a retired career Foreign Service Officer, spent 32 years in government service, including over 20 years in assignments across Africa.

He served as the United States Ambassador to Ethiopia (1999-2002), United States Ambassador to Guinea (1996-1999) as well as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria (1993-1995), Cameroon (1990-1993), and Togo (1987-1990). Previous assignments include Zambia, the Seychelles, Ethiopia, and Washington, DC.

Ambassador Nagy has received numerous awards from the U.S. Department of State in recognition of his service, including commendations for helping prevent famine in Ethiopia; supporting the evacuation of Americans from Sierra Leone during a violent insurrection; supporting efforts to end the Ethiopian-Eritrean War; and managing the United States Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria during political and economic crises.

Following his retirement from the Foreign Service, Ambassador Nagy served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at Texas Tech University from 2003 – 2018. During that time he lectured nationally on Africa, foreign policy, international development, and U.S. diplomacy, in addition to serving as a regular op-ed contributor to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal newspaper on global events. He co-authored “Kiss Your Latte Goodbye: Managing Overseas Operations,” nonfiction winner of the 2014 Paris Book Festival.

Ambassador Nagy arrived in the United States in 1957 as a political refugee from Hungary; he received his B.A. from Texas Tech University and M.S.A. from George Washington University.

Geeta Pasi

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, Term of Appointment: 10/22/2018 to present.

Geeta Pasi

Ms. Geeta Pasi, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State since October 22, 2018. Ms. Pasi served as U.S. Ambassador to Chad from 2016-2018 and as U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti from 2011 to 2014. She previously served as the Director of the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State.

Ms. Pasi was also the Director of the Office of East African Affairs in the Bureau of African Affairs from 2009 to 2011, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka, from 2006 to 2009, and Deputy Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany from 2003 to 2006. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1988, Ms. Pasi has served at posts in Cameroon, Ghana, India and Romania.

Ms. Pasi graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1984. She completed a Master’s Degree in French Studies at New York University in 1986. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1988, she worked as an institutional financial market researcher in New York.

Ms. Pasi hails from New York State. Her foreign languages include French, Hindi, Romanian and German.

Whitney Baird

Deputy Assistant Secretary, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, Term of Appointment: 09/06/2018 to present

Whitney Baird

Whitney Baird assumed duties as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for West Africa and Security Affairs in September 2018. Previously she served as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Europe and European Union and Regional Affairs in the European Bureau. She was Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London from 2014-2017. Prior to London Whitney Baird served in the Economic Bureau of the Department of State as Special Advisor for Trade Negotiations, Director for Multilateral Trade Affairs, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade, and Acting Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs. Ms. Baird has also served overseas in Madrid, Spain; Dakar, Senegal; Lomé, Togo; Toronto, Canada; and Yaoundé, Cameroon. She has served in Washington as Deputy Director of the State Department Operations Center, Senior Watch Officer, Secretariat Staff Officer and Watch Officer.

Ms. Baird graduated from the University of North Carolina with a degree in Political Science. She earned a Masters in International Security Studies from the National War College.

Makila James

Deputy Assistant Secretary, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, Term of Appointment: 09/17/2018 to present

Makila James

Makila James, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa and The Sudans since September 17, 2018.

Prior to taking up these responsibilities, she was on the Faculty of the National War College and served as the Director of the International Student Management Office at the National Defense University (NDU) (2016-2018). She was the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Swaziland (now the Kingdom of Eswatini) from 2012 until December 2015.

Ms. James has also held a variety of positions in Washington and overseas, including as the Director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs (2010-2012), Deputy Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs (2007-2009), and Principal Officer of the Consulate General in Juba, Southern Sudan (2006-2007). Previously, Ms. James was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and was a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

She also served as an International Relations Officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs, Desk Officer in the Office of West African Affairs, and as a Watch Officer in the Department’s Operations Center. Her overseas assignments have included postings as Political Officer in Zimbabwe, Political/Economics Officer in Nigeria, and Consular Officer in Jamaica.

Born in New York City, Ms. James received a B.A. from Cornell University, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a Masters in National Security Studies from NDU.

Elizabeth Fitzsimmons

Deputy Assistant Secretary BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, Term of Appointment: 10/01/2018 to present

Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State since October 1, 2018.

Elizabeth Fitzsimmons

She was previously the Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Department from March to August 2018. Prior assignments include Deputy Executive Secretary to Secretaries Kerry and Tillerson from May 2016 to October 2017, Senior Advisor at the Foreign Service Institute from October 2017 to March 2018, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from August 2015 until May 2016. She joined the Department in 1995, and at the time of her swearing in was the youngest member of the Foreign Service. She has served overseas in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Cambodia, India, and Bulgaria. Domestically, she has worked in the State Department Operations Center as a Senior Watch Officer, and as Deputy Director of the State Department’s Executive Secretariat.

Elizabeth holds a BA from the University of Virginia in East Asian studies and a certificate from the International Division at Waseda University in Tokyo. She speaks French, Mandarin Chinese, and Bulgarian. In 2009, she was named a Fellow by the International Women’s Forum, one of only 25 women in the world to be so honored.

Matthew T. Harrington

Deputy Assistant Secretary, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, Term of Appointment: 09/2018 to present

Matthew T. Harrington

Ambassador Matthew T. Harrington, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State since September 4, 2018. He previously served as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Africa and Public Diplomacy/Public Affairs since January 8, 2018. He has spent much of his diplomatic career in Africa or working on African issues. He served as Ambassador to Lesotho from 2014-2017 and, before that, as Director of the Office of Analysis for Africa in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He spent two tours as a Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Namibia and Togo, and also worked as a Political Officer in Harare, Zimbabwe, as Sudan Desk Officer in the Bureau of African Affairs, and as a Consular Officer in Accra, Ghana.

In addition, Ambassador Harrington also completed assignments as Counselor for Political-Economic Affairs in Lisbon, Portugal, as a Watch Officer in the Department of State’s Operations Center, and as a Political Officer in Brasilia, Brazil.

Prior to Joining the Foreign Service in 1991, Harrington served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zouerate, Mauritania. He earned a B.A. in history from Washington and Lee University.


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