First LGBTQ Woman of Color Confirmed to Ambassador-Level Role

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Chantale Wong brings decades of international economic development experience to her new post.
US Treasury Department

The US Senate on February 10 easily confirmed Chantale Wong to serve as the director of the Asian Development Bank, marking the first time that an out lesbian woman or an LGBTQ person of color will ascend to an ambassador-level post.

Wong, who was nominated by President Joe Biden in July, received approval from 66 senators in the final hurdle before she becomes the American leader of the Asian Development Bank, which is a regional development bank aimed at promoting economic development in Asia.

Wong is equipped with more than three decades of experience in international economic development. She was tapped by former President Bill Clinton to serve on the board of directors at the Asian Development Bank and former President Barack Obama appointed her to be the vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Imani Rupert-Gordon, the executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, praised Wong’s confirmation and applauded the Biden administration for putting an emphasis on diversity.

“From appointing Secretary Buttigieg and Admiral Rachel Levine — the first Senate-confirmed openly gay and transgender cabinet-level appointments, respectively — to [the] confirmation of Ambassador Wong, it is clear that President Biden is intent on fulfilling that promise,” Rupert-Gordon said. “While there is still much work to be done on elevating LGBTQ nominees to federal judicial roles, we are heartened to see LGBTQ individuals finally being represented in the highest levels of government for the first time in history.”

Out gay Congressmember David Cicilline of Rhode Island, who chairs the Equality Caucus, said Wong is “exceptionally qualified for this multi-disciplinary role at the intersection of finance, technology, and the environment.”

“We are proud that she will be the first LGBTQ person of color to serve in an ambassador level role,” Cicilline said. “Ambassador Wong’s leadership will demonstrate to leaders from the other member states that LGBTQ people deserve acceptance and equality. We look forward to working with her in her new role.”