I am pleased to announce that Ambassador Mark Brzezinski has been appointed to serve as Executive Director of the U.S. Government's Arctic Executive Steering Committee (AESC). As U.S. Ambassador to Sweden from 2011 to 2015, Brzezinski made the Arctic a central focus of his tenure, and he will bring deep experience and a unique perspective to the role of Executive Director.
President Obama established the AESC with his January 2015 Executive Order, "Enhancing Coordination of National Efforts in the Arctic". The group is charged with providing guidance and coordinating priorities and activities across Executive Branch agencies under the National Strategy for the Arctic Region. These responsibilities include improving the coherence of engagement with the State of Alaska and Alaska Native communities and supporting the U.S. Chairmanship of the 8-nation Arctic Council for 2015-2017.
The AESC includes, in addition to the Executive Director, the Directors of OSTP, CEQ, DPC, and NSC; the deputy secretaries of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy, and Homeland Security; equivalent officers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, EPA, NASA, NSF, and the Arctic Research Commission; and the Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. I serve as the Chair of the Committee in my capacity as Director of OSTP, and the Vice Chair is Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Amy Pope.
Ambassador Brzezinski's appointment as Executive Director of the AESC underscores the importance that President Obama attaches to coordination of U.S. efforts in the Arctic. As the President said when introducing the National Strategy for the Arctic Region in May 2013, "We will seek to prioritize and effectively integrate the work of Federal departments and agencies with activities that are already underway in the State of Alaska and at the international level. And we will partner with the State of Alaska and Alaska Natives, as well as the international community and the private sector, to develop innovative solutions and new ways of operating."
During his tenure in Stockholm, which included the period of Sweden's chairmanship of the Arctic Council, Ambassador Brzezinski worked closely with the Swedish government on a wide range of Arctic issues. Under his leadership, the U.S. Embassy developed new partnerships with governments and diplomats, businesses, and the environmental and NGO communities, with emphasis on the link between what is happening in the Arctic and what is happening in the rest of the world. Now, with the United States having assumed the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May, Ambassador Brzezinski's international experience with those issues will be put to good use at AESC in our role supporting Secretary of State Kerry as Council Chair.
From 1999 to 2001, Ambassador Brzezinski served on the National Security Council staff under President Clinton, first as Director for Russia and Eurasia, and then as Director for the Balkans. He received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, a law degree at the University of Virginia Law School, has Doctorate in political science from Oxford University, and was a Fulbright Scholar in Warsaw, Poland. Before joining the Obama Administration, he was also a partner at a Washington, DC law firm and he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.