President Joe Biden on Thursday tapped Chicagoan and former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to lead U.S. efforts to rebuild Ukraine’s economy amid international concerns over its future as a result of the damage Russia has inflicted on the country’s infrastructure and businesses.
”Working in lockstep with the Ukrainian government, our allies and partners, international financial institutions, and the private sector, she will drive the United States’ efforts to help rebuild the Ukrainian economy,” Biden said in naming Pritzker, the sister of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, as a special U.S. representative within the State Department.
”Special representative Pritzker will also work with Ukraine’s other international partners, including via the G7 coordination platform, to ensure that international efforts are complementary and mutually reinforcing, as well as to encourage international partners to keep stepping up their support for Ukraine’s immediate economic recovery needs,” the president said.
Like her brother, Penny Pritzker is an heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune. She is an entrepreneur with extensive business contacts and was a major backer of Barack Obama in his rise to the U.S. Senate and the presidency, helping to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for his political campaigns. After winning a second term in the White House, Obama named her as commerce secretary.
Pritzker, 64, is expected to use her experience to help create investment opportunities in Ukraine, including public and private investment from U.S. allies in the effort to end Russia’s invasion. Rebuilding areas devastated by Russian military strikes could cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
Ukraine also has a history of political corruption, which President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has sought to combat. Biden said Pritzker will “help the Ukrainian government make reforms needed to strengthen its economy.”
The Pritzkers are descendants of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants, something Biden noted in his announcement.
”As we take this next step to help Ukraine forge a stronger future, we remain steadfastly committed to helping it defend its freedom today,” Biden said. “The brave people of Ukraine have inspired the world with their resilience and resolve, and as this announcement reaffirms, the United States remains committed to stand with them, for as long as it takes.”
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