The post-pandemic shakeup of the Atlanta Consular Corps continued throughout the course of 2022, with a number of new diplomats arriving just as their public schedules could return to normal for the first time in two years.
Some of the city’s largest and most active missions saw their top diplomats change as 2022 ended, with another contentious election in Georgia and nationally providing a punctuation mark on an era of change and uncertainty.
The new crop of consuls general in Atlanta skewed female, especially among the Latin American diplomats, perhaps reflecting the rising desire at many diplomatic missions to engage with the diversity that Atlanta offers to the world.
Many arrived during the summer, a natural time for travel and a lull before the beginning of a new school year. Jump to: 10 new consuls general | Slovakia: One new honorary consul | India: Farewell but not gone | Our diplomatic outreach | or by country:
10 New Consuls General
February saw the arrival of Caoimhe Ni Chonchuir, the Irish consul general whose appointment was announced just before the close of 2021.
Ms. Ni Chonchuir was one among many in the largest crop of consuls general arriving in the city in recent memory — at least nine new career diplomats within the same calendar year, an unprecedented number based on our diplomatic roundups going back to 2011.
The new Irish consul general is the fourth to hold the post and the second consecutive woman, replacing Ciara O’Floinn, whose tenure lasted just a year after Shane Stephens spent five in Atlanta and ended his term as the dean of the consular corps.
Experienced in gender-equality issues from her time at the United Nations, Ms. Ni Chonchuir quickly got to work in a city that prides itself on diversity and inclusion. She continued the consulate’s effort to reach out to Atlanta’s diverse communities and challenge the stereotype of what the Irish diaspora looks like.
In her first three months, she hosted high-level delegations including multiple Irish ministers who she says are increasingly looking at the South for its economic dynamism.
Another large European mission saw its first woman take the helm this year since the consulate’s opening in 1989, as new French Consul General Anne-Laure Desjonquères arrived in August.
The 42-year-old mother of three arrived just in time to engage with France-Atlanta, the annual event series on science, business and humanitarian initiatives hosted between the consulate and Georgia Tech.
She replaced Vincent Hommeril, the literature-loving father of seven who said “au revoir” to Atlanta with a poignant letter read in French during a Bastille Day celebration in July.
She took over at a time of unprecedented activity for the French consulate, which is overseeing an increasing array of science and tech exchanges, French startup investment and a renaissance of travel between Atlanta and Paris.
The Atlanta consulate has also been working on Villa Albertine, a series of residencies for architects, artists, musicians and other professionals and hosted by select missions around the world. The launch for this year’s “season” takes place on Jan. 23.
In our latest conversation with her, Rachel Galloway corrected our form of address. We called her “ambassador,” assuming that her title carried over from her tenure running the British embassy in North Macedonia. Turns out, the honorific is not as portable for British diplomats, and consul general works just fine for Ms. Galloway, who replaced Andrew Staunton in July after his eventful three years in Atlanta.
She may not have reached the “sportaholic” status as Mr. Staunton claimed for himself, but Ms. Galloway is a football (soccer) fan and plans to continue with his emphasis on sports business and diplomacy.
While Mr. Staunton’s tenure straddled a pandemic, Ms. Galloway’s was greeted early on by another sad historic event, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II after her more than 70-year rule.
For the first time in recent memory, the United Kingdom is now represented in Atlanta by His Majesty’s consul general.
Read more: New British Consul General Lands in Atlanta From Ambassadorial Posting in Europe and read her bio here
Atlanta’s deep bench of consuls with former Brazilian expertise continued to grow with the arrival of Urs Broennimann, the new consul general of Switzerland.
He replaced the retiring Peter Zimmerli, who said his farewells in August.
Like Mr. Zimmerli, who returned to Switzerland rather than onward to a new posting, Mr. Broennimann believes he may end his long diplomatic career in Atlanta.
He brings deep Latin American expertise to the city, but immediately prior to his posting here he spent time in an interim capacity in Côte d’Ivoire.
Rounding out the European turnover for the year was Jaap (Jacob) Veerman, who arrived in Atlanta from Manila, where he served as a Dutch government consultant to the Asian Development Bank.
Mr. Veerman replaced Ard Van der Vorst, the inaugural Dutch consul general in Atlanta, who was promoted to Asia with an ambassadorial posting in New Zealand (from where he also represents the Netherlands in a variety of Pacific island kingdoms.)
The new Dutch consul general vows to keep up the Dutch focus on the two-way creation of investment links and jobs, also prioritizing the sharing of expertise in fields like water management, agriculture and other areas where the Netherlands has an edge.
Read more: New Dutch Consul General Arrives in Atlanta
James Hill, the Portuguese-speaking native of Saskatchewan with a decorated diplomatic career, arrived to take up Canada’s consul general posting in April.
He joked that he stopped over on the way home from his previous posting as ambassador to Costa Rica and never left.
Before his arrival, Deputy Consul General Kirk Duguid served as acting head of mission, filling the gap between Louise Blais, who had returned for a six-month stint, and Mr. Hill.
This year, Mr. Hill will preside over celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Canada’s consulate general in Atlanta.
Japanese Consul General Mio Maeda is one of the newest of the city’s new career diplomats.
His posting began Nov. 3, after which he set off on a nonstop series of engagements before and during the holidays, including the SEUS-Japan conference in Orlando in mid-November and the Bonenkai gala in mid-December.
Mr. Maeda replaced Kazuyuki Takeuchi, who among many achievements during his three pandemic-tinged years in Atlanta presided over the installation of the community funded Peace Bell at the Carter Center, whose groundbreaking was held, tragically, the same day former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was murdered.
Brazilian Consul General Luis Claudio Villafane Gomes Santos was also a late arrival in 2022, coming in just before Mr. Maeda.
He replaced Carlos Henrique Moojen de Abreu e Silva, whose tenure began in 2018 and ended when he was appointed Brazil’s ambassador to Panama.
Mr. Santos, a historian and biographer by training, is to speak at an upcoming Global Atlanta Consular Conversation on Jan. 18. Learn more and see his full bio here
In February, just after the 2021 election brought the opposition Progressive Liberal Party to power, Anthony Moss was tapped by the Bahamian government to replace Astra Armbrister Rolle, who returned to the country and started a company that manufactures PVC pipe and other building materials.
Latin America: Colombia, Honduras, Peru
Latin American consulates saw new faces arrive in the city.
Adriana Arias Castiblanco, a career diplomat according to her LinkedIn profile, took over the Colombian consulate in Atlanta in August.
In the same month, Ada Evila Serrano Nunez became consul general of Honduras in Atlanta, ending a long period where the consulate was headed up by an acting head of mission. Ms. Serrano’s arrival was announced on the consulate’s Facebook page here, and she conducted a radio interview with La Vision here (Spanish).
Peru’s consulate saw the departure of Jaime Sparks, who has not been replaced with a new consul general yet, as the nation undergoes a crisis of governance. Jerica Yella Zanelli is serving as acting consul general.
India: Farewell but not departed
Multiple farewell events were held for Indian Consul General Swati Kulkarni, whose departure was anticipated but was delayed for the better part of 2022. A new Indian consul general — the fourth for the mission that opened in 2012 — is set to arrive sometime in 2023. Read more: At Farewell, India Consul General Praised for Political, Business Outreach Around the South
Slovakia: New Honorary Consul
The newest country with representation in Atlanta is the central European nation of Slovakia, which appointed longtime economic development professional John Woodward of the Metro Atlanta Chamber as its honorary consul in Georgia and South Carolina, where this week he attended successive inaugurations of two re-elected Republican governors.
Global Atlanta’s Diplomatic Outreach
For the seventh year overall and the first full year since the pandemic, Global Atlanta continued to host the in-person Consular Conversations series of monthly interviews.
The series started after the fading of the Omicron threat in February, when we went off-site to the Carter Center for an event with the Japanese consul general.
We then hosted the Belgian consul general, Michel Gerebtzoff, in April, just before he hosted a historic economic delegation led by Princess Astrid.
Other guests include the consuls general of Germany (at the Halle estate in Buckhead), Nigeria, Ireland, the U.K., the Netherlands, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Miller & Martin PLLC, which sponsored the Consular Conversations series, also hosted an event for the corps at the Atlanta History Center, where we took a look at Atlanta’s recent history of internationalization over lunch.
The Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law continued to sponsor our coverage of the diplomatic corps.
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