Lancaster County native Eric Kneedler was appointed as the interim ambassador to Kenya at its embassy in Nairobi on Wednesday, the U.S. Department of State announced.
Kneedler, a 1991 Lancaster County Day School alumnus, has served as a diplomat on behalf of the United States since 1998. He began his assignment in Nairobi in 2017 and most recently served as the embassy’s deputy chief of mission. He also completed tours in Manila, Philippines; Bangkok; Jakarta, Indonesia; Port Louis, Mauritius; Hong Kong; and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of European Affairs.
Kneedler is replacing former President Donald Trump appointee Kyle McCarter. Although ambassadors are often granted a grace period before being dismissed by a new presidential administration, McCarter announced his resignation as of Wednesday. McCarter served as the ambassador from 2019 to 2021 after a career as an Illinois state senator.
Kneedler wrote on Twitter he hopes to continue to “build on (U.S. and Kenya’s) over 55 years of friendship on security, health, education, trade and so much more!”
Vipi waKenya! I'm Eric Kneedler, starting tonight I'll be Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, @USEmbassyKenya. Let's continue to engage on matters #USKEPartnership and build on our over 55 years of friendship on security, health, education, trade and so much more! pic.twitter.com/ZNfb0MUGle— Chargé d’Affaires Eric Kneedler (@USAmbKenya) January 20, 2021
Kenyan officials have spent recent days negotiating a free-trade agreement with the U.S. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated Tuesday his determination to finalize the agreement with the Biden administration, according to Kenyan newspaper The Standard.
Kenya and the U.S. began trade negotiations in July 2020, with the goal of creating a free-trade agreement that will also serve as a model for similar agreements across Africa, The Standard reported. Kenyan officials worry the Biden administration may undo much of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, including rejecting their free-trade efforts.
In his official Kenyan embassy biography, Kneedler calls himself a Pittsburgh Steelers fan who starts “every NFL season with the fervent belief” the Steelers will win the Super Bowl.
Eric Kneedler and his wife, Kristin, have two children.
“I had an absolutely idyllic upbringing in Lancaster, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Kneedler told the Country Day alumni magazine in its 2014 spring edition. “I’m still best friends with people I met in high school. My kids are being exposed to the world and that’s priceless, but their upbringing will be very different than my own.”
Eric Kneedler’s mother, Suzette Kneedler, taught French at Lancaster Country Day, and his father is former Franklin & Marshall College President Richard Kneedler.