President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced the appointment of Captain Chelsey ‘Sully’ Sullenberger as ambassador as part of his first list of political ambassadors, which also includes two former senior officials in the Obama cabinet.
Sullenberger was chosen as the United States’ representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency that sets international standards for aviation safety.
Sullenberger is best known as the “Hero on the Hudson” for successfully landing a disabled US Airways flight on the Hudson River in 2009 with zero casualties, inspiring a blockbuster movie starring Tom Hanks.
Tom Nides, a banking executive and former senior Obama State Department official, has been appointed ambassador to Israel.
Ken Salazar, a former US senator from Colorado who served as Home Secretary in the Obama administration, has been appointed ambassador to Mexico.
Dr Cynthia Ann Telles, a Democratic donor who is believed to have raised funds for the Biden campaign, has been appointed ambassador to Costa Rica, while longtime Biden adviser Julianne Smith has been chosen to represent the United States to of NATO.
Biden also brought in four career Foreign Service officers: State Department officials Marc Ostfield, Julie Chung and Troy Fitrell as ambassadors to Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Guinea respectively, and the former official. of NIAID Sharon Cromer as Ambassador to The Gambia.
Since retiring as an airline pilot, Sullenberger, a former Air Force fighter pilot, has worked as a lecturer on aviation safety. He has also served as an Aviation Safety Research Consultant to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a member of the Air Line Pilots Association Accident Investigation Committee.
30%. That’s the share of around 190 ambassadorial posts that the Biden administration intends to fill with political appointments, with 70% of the posts going to career civil servants, Axios reported in January. This is up to historical standards and represents a departure from the Trump administration, which filled about 45% of ambassadorial positions with politically appointed people.
What to watch out for
Nominations will now go to the Senate but are all likely to pass, as ambassadorial posts are rarely contentious votes.