America’s first out, lesbian ambassador Chantale Wong confirmed by Senate in historic vote

Chantale Wong will serve as the US director of the Asian Development Bank

Chantale Wong has made history as the first openly lesbian ambassador to be confirmed by the Senate in US history.

Wong is also the first out LGBT+ person of colour to serve in an ambassador-level position, as the US director of the Asian Development Bank.

She was nominated for the role by president Joe Biden in July 2021, and confirmed by the Senate Tuesday (8 February) by a bipartisan and overwhelming 66-31 vote.

“Congratulations to ambassador Chantale Wong on her historic confirmation. For too long, the ranks of ambassadors have failed to reflect the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community,” said Joni Madison, interim president of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement.

“Ambassador Wong’s confirmation is one step closer to achieving a future where all members of the LGBTQ+ community can see themselves reflected at the highest levels of government.”

Wong is an expert in international development policy, with more than three decades experience working in the field including in finance, technology, and the environment, according to a White House press release on her confirmation.

She previously worked in the administrations of Barack Obama, as vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and Bill Clinton, who appointed her to the board of directors at the Asian Development Bank.

Wong, who is Asian-American, has also previously worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and the Treasury.

Wong was also the official photographer for congressman John Lewis’ annual Congressional Pilgrimage to civil rights sites in Alabama, according to her LinkedIn page, prior to the death of the civil rights hero in July 2020.

The HRC’s Madison added: “As an international development expert, Chantale Wong is supremely qualified to represent the United States at the Asian Development Bank. Her background and accomplishments, including her personal commitment to reform, position her to lead by example.

“Ambassador Wong’s confirmation comes at a critical time for United States leadership as the institution conducts its once-in-a-decade review of operating policies that could bolster LGBTQ+ inclusion in its projects across the region.”