Murkowski Welcomes Nomination of Dr. Mike Sfraga to be Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus, today welcomed President Biden’s intent to nominate an Alaskan, Dr. Mike Sfraga, to be Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region. Murkowski championed the creation of the position, which the State Department agreed to establish last August, and strongly supports Dr. Sfraga’s swift confirmation to be the first to hold the post.
“I’m very pleased to see Dr. Mike Sfraga nominated to serve as Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region. This places the U.S. one step closer to having dedicated, high-level diplomatic representation in the Arctic, which will allow us to advance a range of U.S. policy priorities at a crucial time,” Murkowski said. “I’ve been privileged to work closely with Mike for many years, and he is a true Arctic expert. While many Ambassadors learn on the job, that certainly won’t be the case with Dr. Sfraga. His experience is unmatched—serving as Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Founding Director of the Polar Institute at the Wilson Center, and as an affiliate professor at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, among other positions. I will urge my Senate colleagues to move quickly to advance and confirm his nomination.”
Background: Murkowski is a leading expert on Arctic issues and is dedicated to strengthening America’s leadership 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.
In August 2022, after persistent urging from Murkowski, the State Department announced 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.” Murkowski is also advocating legislation to codify the position of Arctic Ambassador.
Dr. Mike Sfraga is the first individual to be nominated 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.”