An official website of the United States government

Michael Punke Nominated U.S. Ambassador to the WTO
September 3, 2009


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 3, 2009

President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals for key administration posts:

• Barbara J. Bennett, Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Protection Agency

• Michael Punke, Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative

President Obama also announced that Thomas Paul D’Agostino, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the Department of Energy and Administrator for Nuclear Security of the National Nuclear Security Administration, will continue serving in his current role.

President Obama said, “The dedication and talent of these individuals will be tremendously valuable to my administration as we work to tackle our challenges at home and abroad, and I look forward to working with them in the coming months and years.”

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Barbara J. Bennett, Nominee for Chief Financial Officer, Environmental Protection Agency

Barbara J. Bennett is a global business executive with over 25 years of experience. She is the former Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Discovery Communications. From 1990 to 2007, Bennett was a key member of the team that built the parent company of the Discovery Channel into one of the world’s most extensive media enterprises, with more than 100 channels telecast in 170 countries, in over 30 languages to over one billion subscribers. As CFO, she was responsible for the worldwide financial functions and strategies of the company including accounting, treasury, budgeting, reporting, audit, tax activities, and evaluation of new growth opportunities, and leading a multi-cultural, multi-lingual team located in the five leading international hub offices in addition to corporate headquarters. Since 2007, Bennett has been an independent consultant working with companies and non-profit organizations with interests in media, hospitality, tourism, and professional sports. She serves on the board of National Rehabilitation Hospital and chairs the investment committee of Presbyterian Homes & Family Services. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and completed executive programs at Harvard Business School and Yale University.

Michael Punke, Nominee for Deputy Trade Representative – Geneva, Office of the United States Trade Representative

Michael Punke has worked in the field of international trade law and policy for two decades. From 1995 to 1996, Punke served as Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the United States Trade Representative. There, he advised the USTR on issues ranging from agricultural trade to intellectual property protection. From 1993 to 1995, Punke served at the White House as Director for International Economic Affairs with a joint appointment to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. His responsibilities included assisting in the management of the interagency process. From 1991 to 1992, Punke was International Trade Counsel to Senator Max Baucus, then Chairman of the Finance Committee’s International Trade Subcommittee. Punke has also worked on international trade issues from the private sector, including as a partner at the Washington, D.C., office of Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Maw. During the past six years, Punke has advised clients on trade issues through Michael Punke Consulting out of Missoula, Montana. He also has worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Montana and as a writer, authoring a novel, two books of nonfiction, and two screenplays. Punke is a graduate of George Washington University and Cornell Law School, where he was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Cornell International Law Journal.

President Obama also made the following announcement today:

Thomas Paul D’Agostino, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security of the Department of Energy and Administrator for Nuclear Security of the National Nuclear Security Administration

Thomas Paul D’Agostino was sworn-in on August 30, 2007 as the Undersecretary for Nuclear Security at the U.S. Department of Energy and the Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA’s responsibilities include designing, producing, and maintaining safe, secure and reliable nuclear weapons for the U.S. military, providing safe, militarily effective naval nuclear propulsion plants, responding to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad and promoting international nuclear safety and nonproliferation. Prior to serving as Administrator, Mr. D’Agostino served as the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs at NNSA and directed the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which is responsible for maintaining the safety, security, and reliability of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile. He was also previously the Deputy Director for the Nuclear Weapons Research, Development, and Simulation Program where he directed the formulation of the programs and budget for the research and development program that supports the Stockpile Stewardship Program. He spent over eight years on active duty in the Navy as a submarine officer to include assignments onboard the USS SKIPJACK (SSN 585) and with the Board of Inspection and Survey where he was the Main Propulsion and Nuclear Reactor Inspector. D’Agostino earned his undergraduate degree from the United States Naval Academy, his masters in Business Finance from Johns Hopkins University and his masters in National Security Studies from the Naval War College as a distinguished graduate.