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John Berry presented his credentials to Governor General Quentin Bryce on September 25, 2013, becoming the 25th U.S. Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia. As Ambassador, he seeks to strengthen the U.S.-Australia alliance, which has served as an anchor of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world for more than sixty years; to increase bilateral trade and investment; and to deepen cultural, scientific and environmental cooperation between the United States and Australia.
Ambassador Berry’s distinguished public service career spans more than thirty years. Prior to his nomination, he served as the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management – the federal government’s “chief people person,” — where he directed a workforce of nearly two million -– from April 2009 to April 2013. Hiring of veterans and people with disabilities reached record highs under his leadership. In this role, Mr. Berry was the highest ranking openly LGBT executive in U.S. history.
From 2005 to 2009, Ambassador Berry served as Director of the National Zoo, which had been found to have shortcomings in management and maintenance. He created a strategic plan focused on modernization of the zoo, prioritizing fire protection and renovations of animal houses. From 2000 to 2005, he worked to conserve wildlife habitats and protect endangered species through public-private partnerships as Director of the non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Between 1997 and 2000, Ambassador Berry served as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior, where he was both Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for a Department of 66,000 employees. He successfully launched a Presidential Initiative called “Lands Legacy,” created the Department’s University for employee and manager training, improved employee morale, enhanced working conditions, rehabilitated Interior’s budgetary position, and improved diversity in every bureau of the Department.
From 1995 to 1997, he served as Director of Government Relations and Senior Policy Advisor at the Smithsonian Institution. From 1994 to 1995, Berry served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and acting Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement in the U.S. Treasury Department, where he was responsible for 40 percent of U.S. federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service. He served as legislative director for U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) from 1985 to 1994. He began his government career in 1982 as a management intern in Montgomery County, Maryland and served as legislative aide in the Maryland General Assembly.
Ambassador Berry is a native of Maryland and holds degrees from the University of Maryland and Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Public Administration. He is the first openly gay U.S. Ambassador to serve in a G20 nation. He and his long-time partner Curtis Yee wed in August 2013.