U.S. Senate approves Virginia Palmer as the new U.S. Ambassador to Malawi

On September 18, 2014, the
Senate Foreign Relations
Committee approved the
nomination of Virginia E.
Palmer, a career Foreign
Service officer, to be the
next U.S. ambassador to
Malawi. If confirmed by the
full Senate, it will be the first
ambassadorial posting for
The daughter of Richard
and Becky Palmer, Palmer is
from University City,
Missouri, and attended
University City High School.
Her father, Richard H.
Palmer, taught theatre at
nearby Washington
University. She went to
Georgetown University,
earning a B.S. in Foreign
Service in 1983. She went
on to earn an M.A. at the
University of Virginia in
1986 and joined the
Foreign Service that year.
Her first assignment was as
a consular officer in Calgary,
Canada. Her next duty
station was a bit more
exotic: Beijing, where
Palmer was an economic
officer at the U.S. Embassy.
She returned to
Washington in 1991 as a
watch officer at the State
Department Operations
Center and in 1992 was
named Libya desk officer in
the Bureau of Near Eastern
In 1993, Palmer went to
Zimbabwe as a political
officer at the embassy in
Harare and in 1998 began
a similar job at the
consulate in Hong Kong.
She returned to Africa in
2001 as the regional labor
officer at the U.S. mission to
Kenya and in 2002 was
named economic counselor
Palmer was brought back
to Washington in 2004 as
director of economic policy
in the Bureau of East Asian
and Pacific Affairs and in
2005 was named the State
Department’s deputy
coordinator for counter
Palmer was made deputy
chief of mission at the U.S.
Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam,
in 2008. While there, she
helped coordinate the
continuing resolution to
the Vietnam War, including
repatriation of soldiers’
remains and cleanup of
chemicals, including Agent
Orange. In 2011, Palmer
went to Pretoria, South
Africa, as deputy chief of
mission at the U.S. embassy.
Palmer is married to Ismail
Asmal, who’s also a Foreign
Service officer. They have
two daughters, Aliya and
Nadia. Palmer speaks
French and Chinese.


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