U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay: Who Is Lee McClenny?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Lee McClenny

M. Lee McClenny, a career member of the Foreign Service, was appointed October 26, 2017, to be ambassador to Paraguay. If he’s confirmed, it will be his first ambassadorial appointment.


McClenny was born in San Francisco in 1961, but lived all over the country and at different locations around the world as he grew up. He graduated in 1986 from the University of Washington with a bachelor of arts degree in international relations and affairs, with a special focus on Soviet studies.


McClenny joined the U.S. Information Agency in 1986 and served in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Ottawa, Canada. Beginning in July 1990, he spent two years as executive director of the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano, after which he served another two years in Guatemala as the U.S. embassy’s press attache. In 1993, he had to disseminate information on a sightseeing plane crash that killed 13 passengers, including eight Americans.


In July 1994, McClenny began a three-year stint as public affairs officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He was named director of the State Department’s Office of Press Relations in Washington in July 1997.


McClenny was sent to Brussels in July 1999 as director of press and media services for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He moved over to the U.S. embassy in London in August 2001 as press and information counselor. Four years later, in July 2005 McClenny was named public affairs counselor at the embassy in Manila.


In August 2008, McClenny moved up to consul general in Montréal. There, he was able to assist in the commemoration of the house where Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player in the modern era, lived while playing for the minor league Montréal Royals, just before he made history with the Brooklyn Dodgers.


McClenny went to Malaysia as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur in August 2011. His next assignment was a tough one. In July 2014, McClenny was named chargé d’affaires in Caracas, Venezuela. With no ambassador at the embassy because of poor relations between the governments of the United States and Venezuela, McClenny bore the brunt of that government’s attacks. This included a meeting with Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza on August 12, 2017, after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested he was considering using “the military option” against Venezuela.


McClenny has one son and one daughter. He is married to Katherine Latimer, who’s from Montréal.


McClenny speaks Spanish, French, Serbo-Croatian and Russian.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Official Biography


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