It’s rotation season at the Mission as we welcome a new crop of incoming officers.
The process started almost a year ago when my new Deputy Chiefs of Mission for Wellington and Apia arrived. More recently I introduced you to our new Political and Economic Counselor, Colin Crosby.
The final piece of the reorganization fell into place today with the arrival in Auckland of Jim Donegan, our new Consul General.
Jim is a seasoned diplomat well suited to the challenges of the senior role he is assuming here. Over the course of his diplomatic career he has held significant positions in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, and North America. While posted in Caracas, for example, he reported on then Lt. Colonel Hugo Chavez’s first coup. While in Basra his team came under regular rocket fire. He has deep, hands-on policy experience on a wide range of issues.
Jim’s most recent posting was in the American Mission to the United Nations, where he was the Counselor for Political Affairs. Jim and his policy team were responsible, among other things, for Security Council resolutions to establish peacekeeping operations in the Sudan and to advance U.S. positions on various issues relating to youth, women, peace, and security.
As Consul General, Jim will head our busy operation in Auckland and manage our expanding political, economic, public outreach, and public affairs teams in the supercity. We are firing him out of a cannon into his new duties, and his calendar for the next three weeks is packed with community appearances, welcome receptions, consultations, and a few special events including the social media conference we are co-hosting with the Auckland University of Technology and Social Media NZ.
Jim is accompanied by his wife Sue, a former British diplomat whom he met while in Venezuela. As his accent suggests, he is a New York City native and earned his bachelor’s degree (in electrical engineering) and MBA from Manhattan College. True to his roots, he’s a die-hard Mets fan. When you meet him, be sure to ask his views on the age-old Yankees v. Mets schism.
I’ve already advised Jim that he will have very little leisure time here. I understand that he has a diverse set of interests, in case a couple hours open up on a Sunday afternoon. He tells me that he is an avid hiker, and that Sue and he regularly attended the theater in New York. Therefore, I have steered him for now toward Waiheki and Mary Poppins, but feel free to offer him any other suggestions that you might have.
We’re excited to have such a seasoned political and policy hand on board to lead operations at the Consulate. Please join me in welcoming Jim and Sue, and please do stop to say hello when you see them around town, on the trail, or in line at the box office.