This article is part of The Biden Transition, Foreign Policy’s ongoing coverage of how U.S. President-elect Joe Biden builds a new White House administration—and what the new team’s policies might be.
U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has tapped a former senior foreign service officer to serve as her national security advisor, the latest diplomat to join the incoming administration as President-elect Joe Biden and Harris build out their national security team.
Her pick for the job, Nancy McEldowney, served in the foreign service for over 30 years, including posts as U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, director of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute, and chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission in Turkey and Azerbaijan.
In prior interviews with Foreign Policy, McEldowney openly criticized President Donald Trump for alienating close U.S. allies and allowing his son-in-law, White House advisor Jared Kushner, a real estate developer, broad and ill-defined influence over U.S. foreign policy. She has also joined a chorus of former diplomats who rebuked the Trump administration for mismanaging and weakening America’s diplomatic corps and its repeated attempts to push through steep budget cuts to the State Department and foreign aid programs.
McEldowney, who taught at Georgetown University from 2017 to 2020, was more recently involved in a major study by Harvard University calling for an overhaul of U.S. foreign service to confront “one of the most profound crises in its long and proud history.” The report urged the Biden administration to cut back on the practice of granting political supporters senior State Department and ambassador posts and highlighted other sorely needed structural reforms to the department.
In a statement, Harris said McEldowny’s “distinguished Foreign Service career and leadership abroad will be invaluable as we keep the American people safe and advance our country’s interests around the world.”
McEldowney is one of several key appointees Harris announced on Thursday. Harris also tapped Hartina Flournoy, a longtime Democratic Party operative, as her chief of staff, and Rohini Kosoglu, her former chief of staff in the Senate, as her domestic policy advisor.