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Jake Sullivan to become State Department director of policy planning

Jake Sullivan to become State Department director of policy planning

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jake Sullivan will soon be named as the next State Department director of policy planning, two State Department officials confirmed to The Cable.

Sullivan’s appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, could come as early as today, the officials said. He replaces outgoing Policy Planning Director Anne-Marie Slaughter, who will return to teach at Princeton University at the end of this month. Sullivan, one of Clinton’s closest and most trusted aides, won’t even have to change offices on the State Department’s 7th floor to take charge of the shop that is Foggy Bottom’s main incubator for policy ideas.

State Department officials said that Sullivan’s close relationship with Clinton will enable him to keep policy planning tightly integrated in the secretary’s office. As the top policy advisor inside Clinton’s office over the last two years, he’s also got the experience with the interagency process to help his new office execute its ideas.

"Given his relationship with the secretary, with the building, and with the White House, covering the whole range of issues over the last two years, he is the most natural and best fit to create connectivity between the mid- to long-range planning functions of S/P [the policy planning office] and the operations of foreign policy here at State and across the U.S. government," one State Department official said.

Sullivan is well respected, but young for such a senior posting. After graduating Yale Law School in 2004, he worked as a practicing attorney for only a few months before joining Clinton’s presidential campaign. A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, he was part of Clinton’s debate prep team and was deputy policy director of her campaign before the election.

Sullivan’s career is filled with honors and prestigious assignments. While at Yale, he worked for current Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. While in London he worked with Les Gelb at the Council on Foreign Relations. After law school, Sullivan clerked for Guido Calabresi of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. He has also served as chief counsel and senior policy advisor to Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Sullivan also has a penchant for journalism. He was editor of the Yale Daily News as an undergraduate, served as articles editor of the Yale Law Journal, and worked as reporter-researcher in London for Time Atlantic.

One State Department official said that Sullivan’s ascendance would make the policy planning shop more "operational" than under Slaughter, whose primary focus was on developing the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

"This is more the Winston Lord, Jim Steinberg, and Dennis Ross model for policy planning," the State Department official said, referring to three past directors who were relatively young and had more practical policy experience than academic expertise. "Policy planning will probably be a little more operational with a director who is not yet a household name but should be and will be soon."

There’s no decision yet on who will be Sullivan’s deputy. Derek Chollet, who was Slaughter’s number two, has moved over to the National Security Staff to be its new senior director for strategic planning.