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Joe Biden nominates ex-HP boss as US ambassador to Kenya

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated former Hewlett Packard (HP) CEO and president Margaret Cushing Whitman as America’s ambassador to Kenya.

“Margaret C. Whitman (Meg), a business executive and former candidate for Governor of California, is a Member of the Board of Procter & Gamble and General Motors, and National Board Chair at Teach for America,” White House said in a dispatch.

Ms Whitman’s bio says she is the former CEO of Quibi, a streaming content platform for mobile devices, and a former President and CEO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, the Hewlett Packard Company, eBay, and FTD, the US IT and online shopping platforms.

“She has held senior leadership positions at Hasbro, StrideRite Corporation and the Walt Disney Corporation, and she is a former partner at Bain and Co,” the bio states.

Ms Whitman studied for a BA at Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard University. “Among numerous honors, Meg has been inducted into the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame and the US Business Hall of Fame,” her bio says.

If accepted by the Congress, she will replace Kyle McCarter, a son of evangelicals and who became known for his controversial tweets railing government officials for corruption. Mr McCarter resigned earlier in February after Biden took over power. The last female US Ambassador to Kenya was Prudence Bushnell (1996-1999).

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Ms Bushnell, who was in charge when US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed by al-Qaeda operatives in 1998, later wrote a personal account of the incident. On the day of the attack, she had been hosting then Education Minister Joseph Kamotho at the mission’s offices, which were located in Nairobi’s central business district at the time.

If approved, Ms Whitman, born in August 1956, will come to a new environment where the US Embassy is more fortified, but the threats of terrorism that existed then have now morphed into more complicated versions of extremism.

President Biden’s selection of a business executive signals a slight departure from the past — recent appointees have been either career diplomats or strong party loyalists, many being men.



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