The Leaderboard: Joseph R. Donovan, Jr.

Who is he?

Joseph R. Donovan, Jr. has served as the managing director of the Washington office of the American Institute in Taiwan since 2014. He is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, and was foreign policy advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon from 2012 to 2014. Prior to this, Donovan was an associate professor at the National Defense University from 2011 to 2012, and principal deputy assistant secretary in the Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2009 to 2011.

He also served as the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, and director of the Department of State’s Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. His earlier diplomatic postings include Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Qatar. Donovan received a master’s degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School and a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University.

Joseph R. Donovan, Jr shakes hands with former president Ma Ying Jeou of Taiwan. Source: Presidential Office's flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Joseph R. Donovan, Jr. shakes hands with former president Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan. Source: Presidential Office’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

President Barack Obama on July 13 announced he was nominating Donovan to be the next U.S. ambassador to Indonesia. If he is confirmed, he will replace Ambassador Robert O. Blake Jr., who has held the post since January 2014.

What can we expect from him?

In the wake of Indonesian president Joko Widodo’s visit to the United States in October 2015 and the upgrading of U.S.-Indonesian relations to a strategic partnership, Donovan will head to Jakarta looking to accelerate cooperation in a number of key areas. Indonesia’s signing last year of a memorandum of understanding with the United States on maritime cooperation and the increased number of maritime issues emerging in Southeast Asia in recent months signals that maritime security will become an increasingly important area of focus in coming years. Donovan’s extensive background in defense and security could see him push for greater maritime security cooperation on illegal fishing and piracy, as well as enhanced cooperation on military engagement, law enforcement, counterterrorism, and disaster relief.


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