Obama taps Heather Higginbottom as deputy secretary of state

September 10, 2013

Mark Alexander, policy director for Obama for America, and Heather Higginbottom, senior policy strategist, are pictured in their D.C. office. (Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/ The Washington Post)

The White House on Tuesday announced more than two dozen nominations for various senior positions, including Heather Higginbottom to be deputy secretary of state — the first woman named to that job.

In March, Secretary of State John Kerry named Higginbottom, who was his legislative director in the Senate from 1999 to 2004, to be counselor at State. She had been deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget at the time. Under the two-deputy arrangement at Foggy Bottom, Higginbottom would be replacing Tom Nides, who left in March to return to Morgan Stanley.

Other nominees:

Jim Shelton, formerly with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and at the Education Department since 2009, to be deputy secretary of education.

Sloan Gibson, head of the USO and a former bank executive, to be deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Beth Cobert,  a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., was tapped to be deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.

John Carlin, former chief of staff and senior counsel to FBI Director Robert Mueller and now the acting assistant attorney general for national security is to move up to assistant secretary for that division.

Puneet Talwar, National Security Council senior director for Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States, to be assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.

Michael Lumpkin, a special assistant to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to be assistant secretary of defense for Special Operations and low-intensity conflict.

Christopher Smith,now principal deputy assistant secretary for fossil energy at the Energy Department and before that a top official with Chevron Global Gas, is to move up to assistant secretary.

And last, but hardly least, Obama campaign mega-bundler George J. Tsunis, founder and chairman of Chartwell Hotels, to be ambassador to Norway.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Emily Heil · September 10, 2013