Ambassador to Mauritania: Who Is Michael Dodman?

Monday, August 21, 2017
Michael Dodman

On July 20, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Michael James Dodman to be the new U.S. ambassador to the West African desert nation of Mauritania. Dodman’s most recent government post, beginning in August 2015, was chief of staff for Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine A. Novelli, who resigned when Trump took over the White House. As ambassador to Mauritania, Dodman succeeds Larry E. André, Jr., a career Foreign Service officer who has served in Nouakchott since September 2014.

 

Born in 1961 to Kirk and Pauline (Wiegand) Dodman of Buffalo, New York, Michael James Dodman earned a BS in Foreign Service with an emphasis on International Economics at Georgetown University in 1983, and then took a year off to volunteer at a radio station in Alaska. In 1983 and 1984, he was news director and deejay at KNOM, a non-profit then owned by the Catholic Church in Nome, Alaska, that serves poor, isolated rural communities. After returning to the lower 48, he earned an M.A. in Development Economics and International Development at Boston University in 1986. In 1999, he earned a Master’s in Public Administration at Princeton University.

 

In 1988, Dodman joined the Department of State as a Foreign Service officer. His early career assignments included consular and economic officer in Warsaw, Poland, from 1988 to 1990, and economist in the Office of Eastern European Affairs in Washington, where he helped negotiate trade and investment agreements with the newly capitalist countries.

 

From 1998 to 2012, Dodman served in a series of positions related to his training in economics. He served as economic officer at the embassy in Ankara, Turkey, from 1994 to 1998, where he was also the principal speechwriter for Ambassador Marc Grossman.

 

Returning to Poland, Dodman served as deputy economic counselor in Warsaw from 1999 to 2002, then as special assistant to the under secretary for Economic Affairs in Washington, DC, from 2002 to 2003.

 

Back in Eastern Europe, Dodman served as political and economic counselor at the embassy in Prague, Czech Republic, from 2004 to 2008, when Czechia was a new member of the EU and NATO, including negotiations for missile defense installation there.

 

Dodman took his first “hardship post” when he served as economic counselor at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2008–2009, heading straight back to Europe to serve as economic counselor and chargé d'affaires at the U.S. mission to the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, from September 2009 to June 2012. 

 

Dodman took a second hardship post at one of the most dangerous U.S. diplomatic locations in the world, serving from July 2012 to August 2014 as consul general at the U.S. consulate in Karachi, which is Pakistan’s largest city.

 

Back in Washington, Dodman served as director of entry level assignments, where he was in charge of placing early-career Foreign Service officers in postings around the world, from September 2014 to August 2015. 

 

Dodman has served as a policy council member for the Una Chapman Cox Foundation since October 2015. The foundation supports the effectiveness and professionalism of the U.S. Foreign Service through various projects, initiatives, and grants, including grants to officers in the field and sabbatical leave fellowships.

 

Dodman has language skills in Czech, French, Polish, and Turkish. He is married to Joan (Pierce) Dodman, with whom he has two children, Brian and Kaitlin.

-Matt Bewig

 

To Learn More:

Effective Diplomacy After Benghazi (by Michael Dodman, Foreign Service Journal)

USCG Karachi: Goodbye Michael Dodman, Hello Brian Heath (by Domani Spero, Diplopundit)

Michael Dodman Curriculum Vitae (LinkedIn)

State Department Cables 2005-2010 (WikiLeaks)

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