REPORT FOR THE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
UNITED STATES SENATE
SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination: Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)
POST: Republic of Ghana
CANDIDATE: Virginia E. Palmer
Virginia E. Palmer, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources. She has also served as Acting Assistant Secretary since January 20, 2021, overseeing U.S. foreign policy engagement at the critical intersection of our energy, climate and national security goals. Before that, Palmer was the Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Advisor at the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malawi from 2015 to 2019. There, she oversaw an annual bilateral assistance budget of more than $500 million and the work of eleven U.S. government agencies. As Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, she was responsible for the strategic direction and operational effectiveness of 1,100 staff from 28 U.S. government agencies. As Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires a.i. at the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam, she promoted major trade initiatives and helped shape new U.S. dioxin (Agent Orange) remediation efforts. Palmer has devoted much of her 35-year career to African Affairs. This extensive and substantive experience in the region, coupled with her management experience and demonstrated ability to lead large interagency teams as well as policy-oriented offices, makes her a well-qualified candidate to be the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.
Previous positions include Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Director of the East Asia Bureau’s Office of Economic Policy and assignments in Canada, Zimbabwe, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. She is the recipient of numerous Superior Honor, Meritorious Honor and Senior Performance awards. Palmer obtained her M.A. from the University of Virginia and a BSFS from Georgetown University. She speaks Chinese and French.