Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is retiring from her role as second in command at the State Department, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.
“It is with profound gratitude that I thank Wendy R. Sherman for her service to the Department and the American people as Deputy Secretary of State,” Blinken said in a statement.
CNN reported Thursday that Sherman was expected to depart her post this summer, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Sherman has been a central player at the department throughout the Biden administration. She has focused on key foreign policy objectives and challenges, including the US-China relationship.
Sherman often took on some of the tougher diplomatic duties. In February, Sherman and Blinken summoned China’s top official in Washington to the State Department and delivered “a very clear and stark message” about the discovery of a Chinese surveillance balloon, officials told CNN at the time.
“Wendy has helped lead our engagement in the Indo-Pacific, the region where the history of the 21st century will be written,” Blinken said.
“She has deepened our bonds with our friends around the world, especially with the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the European Union. She has overseen our efforts to strengthen the Department’s capabilities to manage our relationship with the People’s Republic of China, and built greater convergence with allies and partners,” he continued. “In the lead-up to and following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, she played a central role in developing and implementing a unified response with allies in Europe and Asia to defend Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and to impose.”
Sherman’s replacement is unknown at this time, sources told CNN.
The Senate confirmed Sherman as deputy secretary of State in April 2021. She was the first woman to hold the position.
“She leaves incredibly big shoes to fill,” said one of the US officials familiar with the matter.
Sherman also came into the role with deep foreign policy expertise, having served as the chief negotiator with Iran, which led to the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration. In addition to covering many other consequential portfolios, she was a key player on North Korea policy during the Clinton administration.
In his statement Friday, Blinken said that when he joined the State Department in 1993, “Wendy had already an established reputation for tackling the toughest foreign policy challenges head on and being an extraordinary colleague and a mentor.”
“Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with her both in and out of government, across administrations, on some of the most pressing issues of our time,” he said.
Sherman’s retirement comes as the department is facing other personnel movements. The administration is preparing to nominate James O’Brien as the assistant secretary for European affairs. O’Brien is currently serving as the top sanctions official at the department, playing a central role in developing the sanctions regime targeting Russia after the country invaded Ukraine last year.
This story has been updated with additional details.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.