Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. has more than three decades of government service and diplomatic experience. Most recently, Ambassador Shannon served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the third highest ranking position at the State Department. In February 2018, Ambassador Shannon announced his retirement. Holding the personal rank of Career Ambassador, he was the highest ranking member of the United States Foreign Service.
With a career spanning over 35 years, Ambassador Shannon is one of the most experienced Latin American hands in the administration.
Prior to his position as the State Department’s No. 3 official, the career Foreign Service Officer served as Counselor of the Department, and briefly as Senior Advisor to the Secretary following his return from Brazil, where he served as United Ambassador for nearly four years. Ambassador Shannon is only the seventh Foreign Service Officer to hold the position of Counselor since World War II, and the first in 32 years.
Prior to his tenure in Brazil, Ambassador Shannon served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2005 to 2009. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council from 2003 to 2005. From 2002 to 2003, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State, where he was Director of Andean Affairs from 2001 to 2002. He was U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), with the rank of Ambassador, from 2000 to 2001.
Ambassador Shannon also served as Director of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council from 1999 to 2000, as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela from 1996 to 1999, and as Regional Labor Attache at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1992 to 1996.
During his thirty year career as a Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Shannon also served as Special Assistant to the Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil from 1989 to 1992, as Country Officer for Cameroon, Gabon, and Sao Tome and Principe from 1987 to 1989, and as a Consular/Political Rotational Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 1984 to 1986.
Ambassador Shannon graduated with high honors from the College of William and Mary in 1980, where he studied government and philosophy. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received a D. Phil from Oxford University in 1983. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.