Biden names Carlson next US envoy to PHL; 3 FilAms in advisory commission sworn in


By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
WASHINGTON/MANILA — The Philippines may host soon a new United States ambassador.
This as President Joe Biden announced that he will nominate career diplomat MaryKay Carlson as the next U.S. envoy to the Philippines.

Carlson, who has been in the foreign service since 1985, is currently the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Heather Variava is the incumbent chargé d’affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, meanwhile, led the swearing in of President Biden’s advisory commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders which includes three Filipino Americans.
The three FilAms are activist and professor Amy Agbayani, Teresita Batayola and registered nurse Luisa Blue.
Agbayani is known for her participation during the 2020 Democratic National Convention where she represented Hawaii during the state roll call. A former chair of the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, Agbayani conducts research on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. She is also an advocate for immigrant justice in Hawaii.

Batayola leads the International Community Health Services, Washington state’s largest Asian and Pacific Islander nonprofit health center provider to all those who need affordable care, especially immigrants and refugees.  In 2014, former President Obama honored Batayola as a “Champion Of Change.” The award-winning Filipina has also been recognized for her outstanding business & philanthropic contributions, and was named a Woman of Courage by the University of Washington Women’s Center.

Blue was appointed by Biden to the 25-member commission. Blue is one of the highest-ranking AAPI officials in the labor movement. She became vice president of Service Employees International Union after serving on its executive board.

Carlson will need to be confirmed by the Senate and accepted by the Philippine government before she takes over the post.
If all goes well, Carlson will replace Ambassador Sung Kim, who is now the US ambassador in Indonesia.
Carlson, a career member of the senior foreign service with the rank of minister-counselor,  previously worked as deputy chief of mission in New Delhi, India for three years, and held the post of chargé d’affaires for 10 months.

“She has also served at U.S. diplomatic missions in China (twice), Ukraine, Hong Kong, Mozambique, Kenya, and the Dominican Republic,” the White House said. “Her domestic assignments include Director of the Secretary’s Executive Secretariat Staff and Deputy Director of Korean Affairs.”

The White House said Carlson, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, has received numerous performance awards, including six Superior Honor Awards from the U.S. Department of State.

She has bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and holds a master’s degrees from Georgetown University and the National War College. She also speaks Spanish and Chinese.