On March 29, 2012, the United States Senate confirmed Mark Pekala as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia, and on July 10, 2012, he was sworn in.
From 2010 to 2012, Ambassador Pekala served as Director of the Entry-Level Division of the State Department’s Human Resources Bureau. Immediately before that, he served three years as Deputy Chief of Mission in the U.S. Embassy in Paris. From 2005 to 2007, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs; in this capacity, Ambassador Pekala oversaw U.S. bilateral relations with fifteen Nordic, Baltic, and Central European countries.
Ambassador Pekala was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, from 2002 to 2005. Before serving in Tallinn, he was Director for Russian Affairs on the National Security Council staff. Previous to serving at the White House, he was Senior Watch Officer in the State Department's Operations Center (2000-2001) and Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States (1999-2000).
From 1998 to1999, Ambassador Pekala was a Dean and Virginia Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University, teaching graduate seminars on U.S.-Russian Relations and European Security. From 1995 to 1998, he was First Secretary at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, where he contributed to the drafting and negotiation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and NATO’s revised "Strategic Concept." Tours previous to NATO included Warsaw, Poland, the State Department's Russia Desk, and the Bureau for Political-Military Affairs.
Ambassador Pekala has received nine State Department Superior Honor Awards (six for individual achievements and three for group accomplishments), two Meritorious Honor Awards, the W. Averell Harriman Award, and the Matilda W. Sinclaire Language Award. From the Government of Estonia, he received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Third Class, in 2007. He is an alumnus of the University of Michigan. From Columbia University he received the Master of International Affairs degree, the Certificate from the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advanced Study of the Soviet Union, and the Master of Philosophy degree in Political Science (all with a specialization in Soviet foreign and defense policy).
Ambassador Pekala speaks Estonian, French, Polish, and Russian, and is learning Latvian. He and his wife have two daughters.