Joseph A. Mussomeli, a diplomat with three decades of experience, took over as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia in October 2010. He previously served as ambassador to Cambodia.
Born in New York City on May 26, 1952, Mussomeli hails from a Sicilian-American family. His father, Mariano Mussomeli, was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in both World War II and the Korean War.
He graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1970. He enrolled at Rutgers University, where he studied for two years before taking time off to hitchhike through Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he attended Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), earning a BA in political science, summa cum laude, in 1975. Three years later, he earned his law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Camden.
After law school, Mussomeli worked as a lawyer, including serving as a deputy attorney general in New Jersey, before joining the Foreign Service in September 1980. His first overseas posting was in Cairo, Egypt, as a general service officer.
After that, he returned to Washington, DC, where he worked at the State Department as staff assistant to the undersecretary for security assistance.
His next overseas assignment was in Manila, Philippines, as a consular officer from 1984-1986. Mussomeli was then North Korea desk officer (1986-1988), senior watch officer (1989-1990), economic counselor in Colombo, Sri Lanka (1990-1992), inspector for the Office of Inspector General (1992-1994), political counselor in Rabat, Morocco (1995-1998), deputy chief of mission in Manama, Bahrain (1998-2001), and a member of the Senior Seminar (2001-2002).
He returned in August 2002 to the Philippines to be the deputy chief of mission. During his second tour in the country, Mussomeli served as chargé d'affaires for one year while the ambassador, Frank Ricciardone, was away in Iraq. In April 2005, he upset Philippine government officials when he told Australian television that because of the rise of Islamic terrorism, “certain portions of [the island of] Mindanao are so lawless, so porous...that you run the risk of it becoming like an Afghanistan situation.” Two weeks later, President George W. Bush showed his support for Mussomeli by nominating him to be U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, a position he assumed in September.
While in Cambodia, Mussomeli joined an anti-corruption march and criticized “the whole culture of impunity here. Who you are, who you know, is more important than following the law. And the police are too intimidated, too deferential, to the wealthy and powerful.”
After three years in Cambodia, he returned to the State Department for one year to serve as director of human resources, followed by a tour in Kabul, Afghanistan as assistant chief of mission handling embassy management.
Mussomeli and his wife, Sharon, have three children, Isaac, Alexis and Thomas, whom they adopted in the Philippines. Sharon is a retired Foreign Service officer, and Alexis is a present-day one.