Mark Burkhalter, an 18-year Georgia legislator who served a brief stint as speaker of the state House of Representatives has been tapped as President Trump’s new ambassador to Norway.
The Republican’s appointment to the oil-rich, progressive Scandinavian country must be confirmed by the Senate.
Mr. Burkhalter, a real estate developer and senior advisor for the public policy practice of the global law firm Dentons, has been working on issues related to public affairs and economic development, particularly in the United Kingdom, for the decade since he left the Georgia House as speaker emeritus in 2011.
The former legislator, who represented a North Fulton district, has displayed a long-standing interest in international engagement, particularly in Europe. He double-majored in German and Slavic studies along with global studies and political science at the University of Georgia. According to his biography, he is “conversant” in German.
Global Atlanta reports from the mid-20002s show him meeting frequently with inbound international delegations as speaker pro tempore. While working with McKenna Long & Aldridge, which later merged with Dentons, he spent much of his time in London and at one point reflected in a Q&A on the experience of seeing the Olympics unfold there in 2012, 16 years after seeing the world come to Atlanta for the 1996 games.
If approved, Mr. Burkhalter would be the second prominent Georgia Republican named as a Trump administration envoy, after Randy Evans, an attorney also from Dentons, was named ambassador to Luxembourg in 2017.
Norway isn’t one of Georgia’s major trading partners, but it has come on the radar as a potential source of tech investment as its startup sector has grown.
The country is represented in Atlanta by Honorary Consul Tom Rosseland, an attorney and a rare dual diplomat who also serves as Sweden’s honorary consul for Georgia.
Mr. Rosseland said Mr. Burkhalter will find himself surrounded by people with a high level of curiosity who are informed about the world and their country’s place in it.
“Mr. Burkhalter will also come to appreciate the extent and depth of the economic, research and security ties that exist between the United States and Norway. As a charter member of NATO, Norway plays a critical security role in that alliance. The historical relationship between the two countries is deep and ongoing. Norway stands ready to engage with the world as an economically strong and vibrant democracy,” Mr. Rosseland said.
Along with offering his well wishes to Mr. Burkhalter, he added that there is no shortage of places to explore in Norway should Mr. Burkhalter find himself with a hankering to venture into the great outdoors.
“He has found an ideal place to enjoy pristine expanses of dramatic landscapes, including mountains, fjords and a rugged coastline worthy of exploration,” Mr. Rosseland said.
A May 15 White House news release announcing Mr. Burkhalter’s appointment also included notices of the president’s intent to nominate K2 Advisors founder William A. Douglass as ambassador to the Bahamas, along with a new inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation.