Canton native picked as next U.S. ambassador to Rwanda

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CANTON — A Canton native who has worked at seven U.S. embassies during his career as a diplomat is scheduled to be sworn in today to a three-year term as the next ambassador to the Republic of Rwanda.

Peter H. Vrooman, 52, will be joined by family members during a ceremony at the Harry S. Truman Federal Building in Washington, D.C., the headquarters of the U.S. Department of State.

The event will be held in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room, the primary room used to entertain foreign and American guests.

Mr. Vrooman is the son of Sally Vrooman, Canton, and the late David H. Vrooman Jr., who was an economics professor at St. Lawrence University. Born in Canton in 1966, Mr. Vrooman is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He speaks Arabic and French.

In Rwanda, Mr. Vrooman will work at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali, the country’s capital, according to a State Department spokesman. Rwanda is a small country near the equator in central/eastern Africa. It’s bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo to the west, Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east and Burundi to the south.

From 1990 to 1994, the country saw civil war and genocide. Rwanda is one of the world’s poorest countries, but it has made progress in developing national and local government institutions, according to the Department of State.

Mr. Vrooman has held senior positions with the Department of State in the United States and at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. He has served at seven embassies in Africa, the Near East and South Asia.

Since 2016, he has worked as the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Previously, he worked there as deputy chief of mission from 2014 to 2016.

As a foreign service officer since 1991, Mr. Vrooman is known for his deep knowledge of East African issues and expertise in U.N. peacekeeping, according to the State Department’s website.

Mr. Vrooman also has strong public diplomacy credentials as well as experience in economic and commercial activity, State Department officials said.

He has managed teams of more than 1,200 staff, U.S. government annual budgets exceeding $30 million and foreign assistance programs of more than $1 billion annually. Mr. Vrooman has also received 15 Department of State awards, including the joint Department of Commerce and Department of State Benjamin Joy Award for Commercial Diplomacy and a Group Valor Award.

Mr. Vrooman earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and a master of science degree from the National Defense University’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

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