Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., was confirmed as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs on February 12, 2016. Previously Ambassador Shannon served as Counselor of the Department. Ambassador Shannon had served briefly as Senior Advisor to the Secretary following his return in September from Brazil, where he served as United States Ambassador for nearly four years. He is a Career Ambassador in the Senior Foreign Service of the United States. Ambassador Shannon is only the seventh Foreign Service Officer to hold the position of Counselor since World War II, and the first in 32 years.
Prior to his tenure in Brazil, Ambassador Shannon served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2005 to 2009. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council from 2003-2005. From 2002 to 2003, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State, where he was Director of Andean Affairs from 2001 to 2002. He was U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), with the rank of Ambassador, from 2000 to 2001.
Ambassador Shannon also served as Director of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2000, as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, from 1996 to 1999, and as Regional Labor Attache at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1992 to 1996.
During his thirty year career as a Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Shannon also served as Special Assistant to the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil from 1989 to 1992, as Country Officer for Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe from 1987 to 1989, and as a Consular/Political Rotational Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 1984 to 1986.
Ambassador Shannon graduated with high honors from the College of William and Mary in 1980, having studied government and philosophy. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He then studied at Oxford University, where he received a M. Phil in Politics in 1982, and a D.Phil in Politics in 1983. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.