President Biden announces key nominees

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden today announced his intention to appoint the following leaders as key leaders in his administration:

  • Doug McKalip, candidate for chief agricultural negotiator for the United States Trade Representative
  • Kenneth Merten, candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Bulgaria
  • Jessica Davis Ba, candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire
  • Robert J. Faucher, Candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Suriname
  • Catherine JK Sandoval, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Panel nominee
  • Daniel B. Maffei, commissioner candidate of the Federal Shipping Commission

Doug McKalip, candidate for chief agricultural negotiator for the United States Trade Representative

Doug McKalip is in his 29th year of federal service as an agricultural policy and trade expert. Since March 2021 he has served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on all agricultural matters related to trade, national security, animal and plant health regulations and a broad portfolio of national and international issues. McKalip is a former senior in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Biotechnology Regulatory Services. From 2015 to September 2016 he was Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture and also Acting Chief of Staff. McKalip was senior adviser on agriculture and rural affairs for the White House Domestic Policy Council, where he advised President Barack Obama on agricultural, ranch and rural policy issues. He served as director of the White House Rural Council, coordinating the entire executive branch’s response to the 2012-2013 drought. McKalip has served in a variety of other roles at USDA, including confidential assistant to the secretary and director of legislative and public affairs for USDA’s National Resources Conservation Service.

McKalip holds a master’s degree in public policy from the American University in Washington DC and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Fellows Program (2020), a Fellow of the California Agricultural Leadership DC Exchange (2018), and a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, VA (2005). He was also a student council member on US affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Kenneth Merten, candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Bulgaria

Kenneth Merten is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Career Ministers Class. He recently served as interim chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Haiti. Previously, he was Executive Assistant Secretary in the Office of Global Talent Management and before that Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Merten has also served as Ambassador to Croatia, Ambassador to Haiti and Deputy Executive Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among his other responsibilities, Merten has served as Economic Adviser at the US Embassy in Paris, France, Executive Assistant in the State Department‘s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, and Senior Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center. Merten received his BA from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and his MA from American University in Washington, DC for Outstanding Leadership in Expeditionary Diplomacy and the CORE Shandling Humanitarian Award. He speaks Haitian Creole, French, German and Spanish.

Jessica Davis Ba, candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

Jessica Davis Ba is a professional member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor. Most recently, she served as Senior Coordinator and Special Advisor for Africa in the Office of the Vice President. Previously, Davis Ba was acting chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy N’Djamena, Chad and before that she was Deputy Chief of Mission to the US Mission to the African Union and Deputy US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Among her other responsibilities, Davis Ba has served as Assistant Director of Programs at the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as a Special Assistant in the Operations Center at the State Department, and as Assistant Director for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement at the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. Her previous responsibilities have included serving as Deputy Economic Adviser and Regional Employment Officer at the US Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and as Political/Economic Officer for the Department of Somalia Affairs at the US Embassy in Nairobi. Davis Ba received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She speaks French and Spanish.

Robert J. Faucher, Candidate for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Suriname

Robert J. Faucher is a career member of the High Foreign Service with the rank of Council of Ministers. Faucher has served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) since 2019, including acting Deputy Secretary for CSO in 2021. He was previously Director of the Office of Western European Affairs in the Office of European and Eurasian Affairs. Previously, Faucher held director positions in the United Nations (UN) Offices for Political Affairs and UN Specialized and Technical Agencies in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs. Faucher joined the Foreign Service in 1985 and served as Deputy Chief of Mission to the US Embassies in Belgium, Ireland, Suriname and Luxembourg. His other overseas posts include the Netherlands, the US Mission to the European Union and the United Kingdom. His previous services in Washington include Assistant Secretary of the Office, Office for European Union Affairs, Office for European and Eurasian Affairs; Special Assistant at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and Attorney Advisor for the Middle East and South Asia in the Legal Adviser’s Office. Born in Landstuhl, Germany, Faucher grew up in Arizona and holds BA and JD/MBA degrees from Arizona State University, an LLM in EU Law from Edinburgh University and an MS in National Security Studies from the National Defense University War School. He speaks Dutch and French.

Catherine JK Sandoval, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Panel nominee

Catherine JK Sandoval is an Associate Professor of Law at Santa Clara University (SCU), teaching and researching energy, communications, antitrust and contract law. As a regulatory and legal expert for more than thirty years and a security leader for more than two decades, her interdisciplinary work advances the security, reliability, access and equity of infrastructures. She heads three institutes at the SCU Law. Sandoval served a six-year term as Commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), appointed by Governor Brown and unanimously confirmed by the California State Senate. During her previous federal service, she was Director of the Office of Communications Opportunity for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Former California Gov. Davis appointed her Undersecretary and Senior Policy Advisor for Housing and previously Staff Director of the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. In this role, she worked with law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, to respond to infrastructure weaknesses and dangerous incidents.

Originally from a trailer park, the East Los Angeles barrio, and then Montebello, California, Sandoval was the first in her family to earn a BA degree. She was the first Latina to be selected as a Rhodes Scholar, the first permanent Latina law professor at SCU Law, and the first Latinx CPUC commissioner. She served as a paralegal to Justice Dorothy W. Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. She earned a BA from Yale University, a Masters of Letters from Oxford University and a JD from Stanford Law School.

Daniel B. Maffei, commissioner candidate of the Federal Shipping Commission

Daniel Benjamin Maffei of New York is a veteran official who has served as Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission since President Biden appointed him in 2021. Under his chairmanship, the commission reinvigorated its enforcement efforts, prioritized support for US export shippers, and established several new initiatives to address supply chain bottlenecks and efficiency issues.

Maffei’s career in government spans more than 20 years. He was twice elected to the US House of Representatives for the 24th congressional district of New York, with duties on the House Armed Services Committee, House Financial Services Committee and House Judiciary Committee. His previous public service services include serving on the Democratic staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and as press secretary for US Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Bill Bradley. Maffei has extensive teaching and research experience at universities and think tanks. In addition to his career in public service, Maffei has worked in the private sector as an independent consultant and as a radio journalist. He received his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s degree from Columbia University and Harvard University.

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