From Delaware governor to ambassador, Jack Markell confirmed for overseas role

Nearly six months after being nominated, former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate for his new role as U.S. Ambassador.

Then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell awaits the arrival of President Barack Obama on Air Force One at New Castle Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Saturday, June 6, 2015, before attending a funeral for Beau Biden. (AP Photo/Emily Varisco)

Then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell awaits the arrival of President Barack Obama on Air Force One at New Castle Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., Saturday, June 6, 2015, before attending a funeral for Beau Biden. (AP Photo/Emily Varisco)

It’s been a busy year for Jack Markell.

In June, he was nominated to become a U.S. Ambassador. In September, Markell was tapped by President Biden to lead the effort to resettle thousands of refugees from Afghanistan. Biden named Markell to the newly created position of Operation Allies Welcome Coordinator. The operation is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s mission to secure homes for Afghans who escaped the Taliban.

Now, six months after he was nominated as ambassador to the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.S. Senate has confirmed Markell’s nomination in a voice vote on the Senate floor on Saturday.

“He is someone who Senators from both sides of the aisle trust to serve as a steward for America’s interests abroad,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware. “I’m confident that Jack will serve the United States with great distinction, great distinction as our top diplomat to the OECD.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

“I’m confident that he has the experience, intelligence, and character to serve admirably as our ambassador to the OECD,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. “Across two decades in leadership, he led innovative financial literacy and banking access initiatives, managed a severe fiscal crisis that affected our whole country, but did so responsibly in Delaware to help grow our local economy, and showed real vision in creating new opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.”

The OECD is an international group created in the early ‘60s to stimulate global economic progress and world trade. It’s currently made up of 38 countries.

At his confirmation hearing in September, Markell pointed to the group’s role in setting a global example for democracy.

“We are at an inflection point in human history, with democratic norms receding in many parts of the world and the global economic system under strain from COVID-19,” Markell said.

“The OECD has long been a forum to advance our common values and demonstrate what democracies can deliver, but the United States and our allies must continue to demonstrate that democracy, human rights, free markets, and capitalism better deliver growth and innovation and a good quality of life for all our citizens.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The U.S. has not had a Senate-confirmed ambassador to the OECD since President Obama’s nominee Daniel Yohannes resigned at the start of the Trump administration in 2017. Several Trump nominees for the position, including GOP fundraiser and short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, were never confirmed by the Senate.

Carper said Markell will be America’s voice on that international body.

“We still have a ways to go to get our nation’s economy and the economies of our world where they need to be, where we want to be,” Carper said. “But I’m confident that with Jack Markell at the helm at OECD on our behalf, we’ll be able to get to the finish line no matter how long it takes.”

Markell talked about how his grandparents moved to the U.S. from Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century to seek a better life.

“It would have been beyond my grandparents’ wildest imagination when they left Eastern Europe that their grandson would have the opportunity to serve Delaware as governor and then potentially our country as the U.S. representative to a multilateral institution that fosters prosperity for all,” he said.

“They came to the United States in the first place seeking exactly that. It would be an extraordinary honor to play a small part in shaping policies that provide the same benefits for future generations.”

Markell was elected to his first of two terms as Delaware’s governor in 2008. He defeated current Gov. John Carney in a surprise upset in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Before becoming governor, Markell also served as Delaware state treasurer. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president at Comcast and Nextel Communications.

Since leaving elected office in 2017, Markell has stayed busy, managing his own consulting firm, and serving on several corporate boards.

He’s also delved into songwriting, penning a song about the August 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The song, called “Charlottesville,” features musicians including Lester Chambers, a member of the 1960s psychedelic soul group, The Chambers Brothers.

An avid cyclist, Markell also biked 3,700 miles from Oregon to Delaware, raising $120,000 for Delaware charities helping children along the way.

Get daily updates from WHYY News!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal