Kerry welcomes Higginbotom as Deputy, Shannon as Counselor

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Secretary of State John Kerry has welcomed the confirmation of Heather Higginbottom as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, and announced that he has tapped outgoing Ambassador to Brazil Tom Shannon to succeed her as his Counselor, as the Back Channel reported was in the works.

“Having served as my Counselor since shortly after I arrived at State, Heather is well known to all of you,” Kerry wrote in a note to the Department this week. “The President let me steal Heather back – which is only fair since he stole her from me in 2007.  I know she will excel in this new challenge.”

“Probably the worst kept secret in the Department is that I have asked Ambassador Tom Shannon to assume the role of Counselor and he has graciously agreed,” Kerry continued.  “Counselor Shannon has had a distinguished thirty-year career in the Foreign Service; most recently as our Ambassador to Brazil and as Senior Advisor to me these last months since his return from Brasilia.”

Higginbottom was confirmed by the Senate last month.

Letter below the jump:

THE SECRETARY OF STATE

WASHINGTON

 

Dear Colleagues –

 

As I’m back home at HST — bookended between a fascinating trip to Asia, some holidays that kept all of us on our toes with South Sudan brewing, and then a trip to the Middle East – I wanted to take a moment to share with all of you something that I talked about this morning at the big 9:15 meeting in the PCR.

 

First — having been confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, and since she was especially eager to get straight to work, right before the holidays, Heather Higginbottom was quietly sworn in by Undersecretary Kennedy, and she is already getting down to business. President Obama and I could not be happier to have Deputy Secretary Higginbottom on board. Like Jack Lew and Tom Nides before her, beyond sharing in global responsibilities for U.S. foreign policy, Heather will have broad management and programmatic coordination and oversight responsibilities for both the State Department and USAID.

Having served as my Counselor since shortly after I arrived at State, Heather is well known to all of you, and I know many of you worked with her previously during the nearly two decades that she served in senior leadership roles across the legislative and executive branches of government, as well as in non-profit organizations.  She has deep experience in policy and management, including previously as the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget. (As I like to say, the President let me steal Heather back – which is only fair since he stole her from me in 2007!)  I know she will excel in this new challenge.

 

As Deputy Secretary Higginbottom moves into her new role, probably the worst kept secret in the Department is that I have asked Ambassador Tom Shannon to assume the role of Counselor and he has graciously agreed.  Counselor Shannon has had a distinguished thirty-year career in the Foreign Service; most recently as our Ambassador to Brazil and as Senior Advisor to me these last months since his return from Brasilia. The Counselor is a special position here at State – one that reports directly to me, providing strategic guidance, undertaking special endeavors, and working broadly across the Department to enhance our diplomacy and public outreach.  Tom brings a wealth of experience to this assignment.  I’m also especially proud that Tom is just the seventh Foreign Service Officer to hold this post, including legends like Chip Bohlen and George Kennan, and the first in thirty two years. Tom would never list himself in the ranks of Bohlen and Kennan, but I wouldn’t have asked him to do this job if I didn’t think he was cut from that same cloth. He is a very welcome addition to my team.

 

Every single day, I’m reminded that this is a special enterprise, at an important time for our country. Even as we all acknowledge that the confirmation process in the Senate has required patience and understanding from many here, and I’m admittedly very, very focused and animated about making sure that these winter months of 2014 will be marked by many long-awaited swearing-in ceremonies, I also want to underscore just how enormously proud I am of the team we’ve assembled working with the President and the White House. This is a team, new and old, committed to and capable of advancing America’s foreign policy and national security in really remarkable ways. From protecting our diplomats and development experts to helping Americans traveling abroad, to promoting shared prosperity, peace, and reconciliation across the continents, to building international coalitions in support of human rights —  and the list goes on and on —  the work you do couldn’t be more critical and you do it incredibly well.  Thanks to your support, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and Counselor Shannon will be invaluable additions to our team as we pursue this agenda.

 

Sincerely,

JK