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Biden nominates daughter of Holocaust survivor as next US ambassador to Germany

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann will also be first woman to serve in post; appointment still needs to be confirmed by Senate

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann during commencement in Philadelphia, May 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

WASHINGTON — US President Joe Biden on Friday announced he’s nominating University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann to serve as US ambassador to Germany.

Gutmann has served since 2004 as president of the Ivy League university in Philadelphia where Biden had established a foreign policy center following his vice presidency.

She is the first US ambassador pick to a Group of Seven nation. Her nomination was announced less than two weeks before German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to make a final visit to the White House. She is scheduled to leave office following German parliamentary elections scheduled for September.

Gutmann, 71, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, will be the first woman appointed to the post. She still needs to have her nomination confirmed by the Senate.

Gutmann has led the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League institution, since 2016 and is an expert in democratic processes and ethics.

She served as chair of Barack Obama’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

Gutmann told The Daily Pennsylvanian, the university newspaper, in 2013 that her Jewish father Kurt’s experiences in Nazi Germany had had a “profound influence” on her.

In this April 11, 2019, file photo University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Former Vice President Joe Biden take part in a forum on the opioid epidemic, at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. President Joe Biden on Friday, July 2, 2021, announced he’s nominating Gutmann to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

As a college student in 1934, he realized he, his four siblings and his parents would not be safe in the country under Adolf Hitler and convinced them to flee to India.

“It’s true that his whole family would have disappeared from the face of the earth had it not been for what he did,” Gutmann told the paper.

Also Friday, the White House also announced Biden was nominating Chantale Wong, who has served several appointments in the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations, to serve as ambassador to the Asian Development Bank; Jeffrey Hovenier, a career senior foreign officer, to serve as ambassador to Kosovo; and Virginia Palmer, a career senior foreign service, to serve as ambassador to Ghana.

 

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