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Biden appoints Hyatt Hotels heiress Penny Pritzker to coordinate US drive to rebuild Ukraine

Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary in 2016. (Official Photo)

By Ukraine Rebuild News Staff, Sept 15, 2023

US President Joe Biden has named Penny Pritzker, a member of a billionaire Chicago business family who served as commerce secretary from 2013 to 2016, to a newly created role overseeing US efforts to help Ukraine rebuild and recover from the ongoing war.

Pritzker, 64, will become “US Special Representative for Ukraine’s Economic Recovery” with the mission to  “drive the United States’ efforts to help rebuild the Ukrainian economy,” Biden said in announcing the appointment. “This includes mobilizing public and private investment, shaping donor priorities, and working to open export markets and businesses shut down by Russia’s brutal attacks and destruction.”

He said she will work “in lockstep with the Ukrainian government, our allies and partners, international financial institutions, and the private sector,” Biden said in announcing the appointment. “Special Representative Pritzker will work with Ukraine to help ensure that as Ukraine begins to rebuild, it rebuilds stronger.”

The role, part of the US State Department, may prove key to drawing further private and public investment for the reconstruction of Ukraine after the war, which Nobel-prize winning economist Ken Rogoff, an adviser to the Ukrainian government, has estimated will cost more than $1.2 trillion.

Pritzker “will also work closely with the government of Ukraine as it intensifies reforms needed to win the future, open export markets, mobilize foreign direct investment, and catalyze economic recovery,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement. Her “extensive private sector experience, service as Secretary of Commerce, and deep personal connection to Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora make her uniquely qualified for this task.”

Blinken said Pritzker’s family emigrated to the US about a 100 years ago from the Ukrainian village of Velyki Pritsky outside of Kyiv, where they owned a grain store. Pritzker’s father, Donald Pritzker, founded the Hyatt hotel chain, and her brother, J.B. Pritzker, is the governor of the state of Illinois.

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