President Joe Biden has nominated Chantale Wong to be the next U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank, making her the first-ever lesbian and LGBTQ person of color nominated for the ambassador-level post.
The announcement, made in a White House press release on July 2, praises Wong as a “leading authority in international development policy with over 30 years of experience in the multi-disciplinary field that includes finance, technology, and the environment.”
“I am truly humbled and honored to be nominated by President Joseph P. Biden to serve as the US Director and Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank,” Wong said in a statement. “If I am confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I will serve with humility and with purpose of advancing US interest at the ADB and the region on behalf of my fellow Americans.”
She added: “Thank you to my family — my Mom, my sister and my daughter and to all my friends for your endless support. I am thinking of my mentor Alice Rivlin who has taught me about doing good and doing it right and of John Lewis who taught me about making good trouble but necessary trouble.”
Wong holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a master’s in environmental engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.
She previously served as chief financial officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation — a position for which she was nominated by former President Barack Obama — the budget director at NASA, and acting budget director of the U.S. Treasury Department.
Wong was also nominated by former President Bill Clinton as a U.S. representative to the Asian Development Bank, where she served as the Alternate Executive Director and oversaw policies and operations.
She also helped establish the Conference on APA Leadership, which helps guide young Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans seeking careers in public service.
A freelance photographer in her spare time, Wong also chronicled the annual Congressional Civil Rights pilgrimages in Alabama with the late U.S. Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.).
LGBTQ Victory Institute, the organization that advocates for LGBTQ representation in public service, praised Wong’s nomination, which it had pushed for through its Presidential Appointments Initiative, a nearly two-decades-old project that seeks to recommend and advocate for the appointment of qualified LGBTQ individuals to serve in the federal government.
Annise Parker, the president and CEO of LGBTQ Victory Institute, said Wong’s nomination is significant, but not simply because of the history-making nature of her appointment to the ambassador-level post.
“Chantale will represent the most powerful nation in the Asian Development Bank at a time when many of its member states criminalize LGBTQ people and deny them the right to marry,” Parker said in a statement.
Related: Biden appoints former Victory Institute staffer as White House Senior Advisor on LGBTQ Issues
“Her presence and leadership can change perceptions of LGBTQ people among representatives from other nations — potentially inching countries toward more acceptance of LGBTQ citizens.
“While she was nominated because of her exceptional qualifications and expertise, Chantale will be a powerful symbol of the Biden administration’s commitment to equality and member states will be forced to notice and respect it.”
The Council for Global Equality also praised Wong’s nomination in a tweet, calling her “extraordinarily qualified” and her nomination “long overdue.”
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