Ambassador to Latvia: Who Is Mark Pekala?
Sunday, April 01, 2012
The Baltic nation of Latvia, which has been independent for two decades after being part of the Soviet Union from 1940 to 1990, has a new U.S. ambassador in residence who has previously served in neighboring Estonia. President Barack Obama announced his intention to nominate Mark A. Pekala to serve his first ambassadorship in Riga on February 17, 2012. He was confirmed by the Senate on March 29.
Born in Michigan on August 21, 1959, to Anne and Henry Pekala, Mark Pekala earned an A.B. in Political Science at the University of Michigan in 1981, a Master’s in International Affairs at the Columbia University School of International Affairs in 1983, and an M.Phil. in Political Science at Columbia University in 1988.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service since 1989, Pekala’s early overseas postings included service as consular officer at the embassy in Warsaw, Poland, from March 1990 to September 1991, and as political officer in Baku, Azerbaijan, from May to June 1992. In Washington, junior assignments included service in the Office of Weapons Proliferation Policy, from September 1991 to July 1993, and as Russia Desk Officer from July 1993 to July 1995.
Pekala served as first secretary to the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, from August 1995 to July 1998, where he worked on the negotiation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act. He was then a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University from August 1998 to July 1999, where he taught undergraduate and graduate seminars on U.S.-Russia relations, U.S. security policy in Europe, and the U.S. policymaking process. Back at the State Department, he served as special assistant to the ambassador-at-large for the Newly Independent States from July 1999 to July 2000, and as senior watch officer in the Operations Center from July 2000 to February 2001.
Pekala was director for Russian Affairs for the National Security Council from March to August 2001, where he briefed President George W. Bush for his first three summits with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Pekala served in the Baltic region for the first time as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, from July 2002 to July 2005, returning to Washington to serve as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs from July 2005 to June 2007. Back in Europe, Pekala served as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Paris, France, from June 2007 to July 2010. Most recently, he has been director of the Entry-Level Division in the Bureau of Human Resources since August 2010.
Mark Pekala has been married since January 2000 to Maria Rosaria (Alongi) Pekala; the couple met in 1996 while working at the United States Mission to NATO in Brussels, she as the special assistant to the United States defense adviser and he as the special assistant to the United States ambassador to NATO. They have two daughters, Julia and Nora. He speaks French, Estonian, Polish and Russian.
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