Murkowski urges movement on Dr. Mike Sfraga’s nomination for Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus, appeared in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations to urge the committee to move on Dr. Mike Sfraga’s nomination for Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic region. Senator Murkowski was the lead proponent on the creation of the position, which the State Department established in August 2022. Dr. Sfraga was nominated to the ambassadorship on February 13, 2023.

“As Senator to the only Arctic state in the nation, I have pushed hard for both the creation of this Ambassadorship and for Dr. Mike Sfraga’s nomination,” said Senator Murkowski. “There is no one more qualified for this job. From his lived experience in Alaska, to his dedicated career of service to the Arctic and our nation, he stands apart, ahead of anyone else who could have been selected for this position. As the only Arctic nation without an ambassador, it is well past time for us to join the rest of the world. I urge the committee to confirm Dr. Sfraga as soon as possible.”

Click here to watch Senator Murkowski’s video Statement


Background: Senator Murkowski is an internationally recognized leader on Arctic issues and is dedicated to strengthening America’s position as an Arctic nation. In October 2021, she and Senator Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Arctic Diplomacy Act to establish an Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs.

Following Senator Murkowski’s persistent advocacy, the State Department announced in August 2022 that “the President plans to elevate the Arctic Coordinator position by appointing an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance U.S. policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress.”

Dr. Mike Sfraga is the first nominee for the new Ambassador-At-Large position. His official biography from the U.S. Arctic Research Commission appears below.

“Dr. Michael Sfraga was the founding director of the Polar Institute and served as the director of the Global Risk and Resilience Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. He currently serves as chair and distinguished fellow in the Polar Institute, where his scholarship and public speaking focus on Arctic policy.

“An Alaskan and a geographer by training, his work focuses on the changing geography of the Arctic and Antarctic landscapes, Arctic policy, and the impacts and implications of a changing climate on political, social, economic, environmental, and security regimes in the Arctic.

“Sfraga served as distinguished co-lead scholar for the U.S. Department of State’s inaugural Fulbright Arctic Initiative from 2015 to 2017, a complementary program to the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council; he held the same position from 2017 to 2019. He served as chair of the 2020 Committee of Visitors Review of the Section for Arctic Science (ARC), Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, and currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs. Sfraga previously served in several academic, administrative, and executive positions at the University of Alaska, including vice chancellor, associate vice president, faculty member, department chair, and associate dean. Sfraga earned the first PhD in geography and northern studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.”