President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced he was nominating his wife Jill's chief of staff as his ambassador to Spain.
President Biden nominated wife Jill's chief of staff Julissa Reynoso as his ambassador to Spain
Julissa Reynoso also served as the co-chair of the Gender Policy Council at the White House and advised the West Wing on border issues. She traveled with President Biden's staff in March to the border. Reuniting children of migrants with their families was said to be an issue of personal interest to Reynoso.
Jill Biden praised the decision.
'When I first met Julissa in 2019, we immediately clicked. We stayed in touch, and I knew if we came to the White House, that I wanted her as my Chief of Staff. She’s been exceptional and an incredible leader and friend. Given her experience and her heart, I can think of no one better than Julissa to represent us in Spain and Andorra. This opportunity came about sooner than we both expected and I will miss her,' Jill Biden said in a statement.
There are no plans for a replacement for Reynoso as the first lady's chief of staff, according to the East Wing, and she will stay on in that position until she’s confirmed. The Senate confirmation process can take months.
Reynoso is one of many high-profile women that Biden has tapped to represent the United States at diplomatic outposts around the world, including Cindy McCain for the World Food Program; Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late president, for Australia; and Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late Ted Kennedy, for Austria.
She is also a former U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay and served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.
A spokesperson for the East Wing said Jill Biden 'advocated' for Reynoso to get the appointment.
'When the President and his team were discussing potential Ambassadors, Reynoso’s experience and skill were immediately sought. While the timing of this opportunity came up a little faster than they both expected, the First Lady was totally supportive of Reynoso being considered again as an Ambassador, and advocated on her behalf. She’s family and we’re going to miss her terribly,' said Jill Biden spokesperson Michael LaRosa.
Jill Biden 'advocated' for Reynoso to get the appointment as ambassador to Spain
Before she joined Jill Biden in the East Wing Reynoso was partner at the international law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, in New York.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Reynoso immigrated to the United States in 1982. She is fluent in Spanish.
She holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and a J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.
The Spanish ambassadorship comes with a posh house in Madrid that was redecorated by President Barack Obama's wealthy ambassador.
James Costos, whose partner is Hollywood decorator Michael S. Smith, is a major Democratic fundraiser. He and Smith redecorated the ambassador's residence in Madrid at considerable personal cost - bringing in items ranging from a John Singer Sargent painting to 12-panel Coromandel screen once owned by Coco Chanel - and then donated much of what they paid for to the home for future ambassadors to enjoy.
Biden also will be tapping Caroline Kennedy, daughter of late President John F. Kennedy, as the American ambassador to Australia, CNN reported, citing three unidentified people familiar with the process.
Biden is poised to nominate Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy, as ambassador to Australia (pictured June 2019)
The 63-year-old former first daughter was a vocal supporter of Biden's since February of last year when she declared he was more prepared for the job than his rivals.
Kennedy, an attorney, writer and editor was three years old when her family moved to the White House and five years old when her father was assassinated just days before her birthday.
But it's not her first time back in the White House since she was a tyke - she was ambassador to Japan under former President Obama.
The first female U.S. ambassador to Japan, Kennedy was an early and prominent supporter of Obama in his initial quest for the presidency in 2008, and also campaigned for him.
Kennedy also sat on Obama's vice presidential search committee which eventually helped put Joe Biden on the 2008 ticket.
She would be the second Kennedy nominated to the administration after Victoria Kennedy, an attorney and the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, who has been asked to serve as his ambassador to Austria.
Kennedy, a gun control advocate and senior counsel at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, came to know the president during the years when Biden served with her husband in the Senate.
Ted Kennedy died in 2009 following a battle with brain cancer, and Biden delivered a eulogy at his funeral after serving with him in the Senate for 36 years.
President Joe Biden is nominating Victoria Kennedy, an attorney and the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, to serve as his ambassador to Austria
Biden tapped Cindy McCain as his representative to the World Food Program
Jamie Harpootlian is pictured with her husband, Dick, a state senator in South Carolina, is Biden's pick as ambassador to Slovenia
Kennedy, a 67-year-old mother-of-two is the president of the board and co-founder of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a non-partisan nonprofit that educates the public.
She also leads the education committee of the board of trustees for the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Kennedy has also served on the boards of gun control advocacy groups, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C., as well as Stop Handgun Violence in Boston.
She founded the group Common Sense about Kids and Guns, aimed at reducing guns deaths and injuries to children.
Biden also tapped Cindy McCain for as ambassador to the UN Food Program in Rome.
McCain was a top Biden surrogate in the 2020 presidential contest and a major factor in his victory in Arizona, after she endorsed him over Donald Trump.
Her nomination came as the president has emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in a deeply divided Washington.
The World Food Program, based in Rome, works with U.S. policymakers, corporations, foundations and individuals to help provide financial and in-kind resources and develop policies needed to alleviate global hunger, according to its website.
As chair of the McCain Institute board of trustees, Cindy McCain has worked on curbing world hunger and human trafficking, among other issues.
Biden also tapped Jamie Harpootlian, a South Carolina attorney and influential Democrat in the early primary state, to serve as his ambassador to Slovenia.
She is married to another powerful South Carolina Democratic operative and Biden ally, state Senator Dick Harpootlian.
President Biden has reportedly settled on Jane Hartley, fundraiser and former ambassador to Paris, as he pick to be his ambassador to London. It comes after months of uncertainty
Biden has also nominated women to be ambassadors to the United Kingdom and France - coveted roles, which come with splendid mansions in the heart of the European capitals.
Jane Hartley, a former ambassador to France, will be nominated as ambassador to Britain, and Denise Campbell Bauer to both France and Monaco.
Bauer was a major fundraiser for former President Barack Obama and had served in his administration as U.S. ambassador to Belgium between 2013 and the end of Obama's final term.