Meet Biden’s choice for secretary of state: Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Blinken has been nominated to be the next U.S. secretary of state. (© Demetrius Freeman/Washington Post/Getty Images)
Antony Blinken speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 24. Blinken has been nominated to be the next U.S. secretary of state. (© Demetrius Freeman/Washington Post/Getty Images)

By Leigh Hartman

For Antony Blinken, the incoming administration’s pick for America’s top diplomat, returning to the U.S. State Department brings the opportunity to continue both professional and family traditions.

If confirmed by the Senate, Blinken would resume a career at the State Department, where he served during the Clinton and Obama administrations. His career in public service follows in the steps of his father and uncle, who served as U.S. ambassadors.

In November 24 remarks accepting his nomination to be the 71st U.S. secretary of state, Blinken said the experiences of his family members who fled persecution for the United States have informed his view of America’s role in the world.

His grandfather, Maurice Blinken, escaped pogroms in Russia before immigrating to the United States. His stepmother, Vera Blinken, fled communist Hungary and later helped other refugees come to America. And Blinken’s stepfather, Samuel Pisar, survived four years in Nazi concentration camps and escaped a death march before being rescued by U.S. troops.

“For my family, as for so many generations of Americans, America has literally been the last best hope on earth,” Blinken said.

Born in Yonkers, New York, Blinken comes from a family of public servants and diplomats. His father Donald served in the U.S. Air Force and as U.S. ambassador to Hungary. His uncle, Alan Blinken, served as U.S. ambassador to Belgium.

After surviving the Holocaust, Blinken’s stepfather went on to attend Harvard and serve as an adviser to President Kennedy.

Blinken says guiding American diplomacy would be “the greatest privilege of my professional life.”

A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, he joined the State Department in 1994. Blinken later took posts in the Clinton White House and on the staff of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he worked closely with Biden, then a senator from Delaware.

After Obama’s election in 2008, Blinken served as then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser and later as principal deputy national security adviser. He was appointed deputy secretary of state in 2015.

In recent remarks, Blinken says the United States has a critical role in convening other nations to tackle global challenges like climate change, arms proliferation and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to be working with other countries,” he said November 24. “We need their cooperation. We need their partnership.”