Indian-American lawyer diplomat Rich Verma has been nominated by US President Joe Biden to a top diplomatic position in the State Department.
Verma, 54, who served as a former US ambassador to India from January 16, 2015, to January 20, 2017 is currently the Chief Legal Officer and Head of Global Public Policy at Mastercard.
If confirmed by the US Senate, he would serve as the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, thus making him the highest ranking Indian American in the State Department.
Biden on Friday announced the nomination of Verma.
During the Obama administration, Verma also served as Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs.
Earlier in his career, he was National Security Advisor to United States Senator Harry Reid while he was a Democratic Whip, Minority Leader and then Majority Leader of the United States Senate.
He has served as Vice Chairman of The Asia Group, Partner and Senior Counsellor at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Senior Counsellor at the Albright Stonebridge Group. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force, where he served on active duty as a Judge Advocate.
“Ambassador Verma is uniquely well-qualified to become the State Department’s number two official. The breadth and depth of his experience and vision will make him a potent leader in protecting and promoting American interests and values around the world,” Ronak D Desai, prominent attorney and leading India practitioner at Paul Hastings LLP and expert at the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute at the Harvard University, said on the White House announcement.
“President Biden has found the ideal individual to serve as the Deputy Secretary of State. Rich’s long-standing track record of dedicated public service, principled leadership on global issues, and fierce belief in the United States renders him the ideal nominee. The President could not have named a better nominee,” Desai said.
Verma earned a B.S. at Lehigh University, a J.D. cum laude at American University, an LL.M. with distinction at Georgetown University Law Center, and a Ph.D. at Georgetown University.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and decorations, including the Distinguished Service Medal from the Department of State, the International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations and the Meritorious Service Medal from the United States Air Force.
He was appointed to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and is a former member of the Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Commission. He serves as a trustee of The Ford Foundation, and is on numerous other boards, including the National Endowment for Democracy and Lehigh University.
Desai said Verma continues to be a source of profound pride for the Indian American community and global diaspora.
“His entire public service career has been one firsts. By becoming the highest-ranking Indian American in the US government if confirmed, his latest nomination to serve as the chief operating officer of the State Department is no exception. He is an inspiration through example,” Desai said.
“At a time when hyper-partisanship and political paralysis have become the norms, Ambassador Verma has always stood out. His unique approach to leading, to serving, and to finding consensus on the most difficult issues have always garnered bipartisan support,” he said.
“Rich Verma’s nomination today hopefully heralds the return of one of America’s most talented, committed, and effective public servants. The country is safer and stronger when he is serving its ranks,” Desai said.