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Biden taps Markell for Italy ambassadorship

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Jack Markell OECD Italy

Ambassador Jack Markell speaks at the opening plenary of the IEA ministerial on March 23. 2022. On Friday, he was nominated by President Joe Biden to become ambassador to Italy. | PHOTO COURTESY OF OECD/REBECCA ROSS

WASHINGTON – Former Gov. Jack Markell was nominated Friday by President Joe Biden to become ambassador to Italy.

Markell currently serves as the ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a 60-year-old, intergovernmental economic organization tasked with stimulating economic progress and world trade. Biden has nominated former U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) to replace Markell at the OECD.

Axios, which first reported the news of the impending nominations earlier this week, said Biden “has been looking for a soft landing for [Maloney], who lost his seat in upstate New York after being pummeled by negative Republican ads, but helped minimized House Democrats’ losses in the midterms.”

In moving from Paris to Rome, Markell would fill one of the most-sought-after embassy assignments around the world that has gone without a permanent assignment for more than two years under Biden.

While the assignment may be seen as a reward for serving two different roles for his close friend, it may not be as natural a fit for Markell, who is a trained economist. He became the first permanent U.S. leader at the OECD in five years when confirmed in 2021 and he served while the OECD worked to implement a global minimum corporate tax rate.

Last year, Markell told Delaware Business Times that he has long been an admirer of the work of the OECD, dating back to his college education and time as governor.

In Italy, Markell will represent the interest of Americans and offer diplomatic services to those in the country, including some 30,000 military members at seven U.S. installations. Meanwhile, the Italian government has taken a far-right turn under Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, especially as the country continues to deal with an immigration crisis.

Markell served as governor from 2009 to 2017, overseeing Delaware’s response to the Great Recession. While governor he also served as chair of the National Governors Association, president of the Council of State Governments, and chair of the Democratic Governors Association. Prior to being elected governor, he served as state treasurer for a decade from 1999 to 2009.

Since leaving elected office, Markell has operated his own consulting firm, raised money for charity via his passion for bike riding, and even dabbled into poetry and music production. His professional career before public office including stints as senior vice president at both Comcast Corp. and Nextel Communications. He earned a bachelor’s degree in development studies and economics at Brown University and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago.

A friend and confidant to the president, Biden tapped Markell to oversee the resettlement of Afghan refugees in the United States after pulling the military out of Afghanistan. The role, referred to as the White House Operation Allies Welcome Coordinator, coordinates the Biden administration’s resettlement policy development and engage with state and local governments, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations to support the resettlement of Afghan evacuees.

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