Secretary of State
October 2, 2015
Today marks the final day of Ambassador Wendy Sherman’s distinguished tenure as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. She is departing after more than four event-filled years to accept a residential fellowship at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics. I know I speak for the entire State Department family in extending to her and to her loved ones our warmest best wishes and profound thanks for her many accomplishments and tireless work in service to our nation.
The Under Secretary for Political Affairs is, after our embassies, often the first responder to events taking place around the world. And invariably, when a crisis arose, Wendy was way ahead of the curve, gathering information, assessing options, and proposing ideas that helped us find the right path forward.
Since the fall of 2011, she traveled to no fewer than 54 countries on America’s behalf. In that time, it would be easier to list the major issues on which she did not play a significant role than those on which she did. At one time or another, she was fully engaged in the Central American refugee situation, the Ukraine crisis, the Syrian civil war, the struggle for stability in Libya and Yemen, the restoration of diplomatic ties with Somalia, the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria, the confrontation with ISIL, the rebalance to Asia, the elections in Sri Lanka, and on and on. Whatever, the issue, Wendy could be counted on for advice and diplomacy that was smart, realistic and sure to advance America’s interests and values.
Among the many issues on which Wendy and I worked side-by-side were the multilateral talks aimed at ensuring the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. Those negotiations proved incredibly grueling. They were technically complex and conducted under intense worldwide scrutiny. Through meeting after meeting, month after month, with characteristic savvy and tenacity Wendy kept the talks on track, overcoming setbacks, reinforcing morale, steadily working through the issues, and narrowing the differences so that – with a final push – an historic agreement could be reached.
Today, after sharing so many long days and sleep-deprived nights, I look back on Wendy Sherman’s service with deep professional and personal gratitude. I am grateful to her for her wise counsel; her incredible devotion; her mentoring of young Department employees; and the respect she garnered abroad as a representative of the United States and its people. Teresa and I are joined in saying “Thank you” by colleagues at every level of the Department who served with Wendy and who will miss her unique blend of professionalism and personal caring and warmth. Our only solace is that she will remain a dear and cherished friend.