Jendayi E. Frazer, who served as President George W. Bush’s assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said the United States had “lost a lot of diplomatic credibility” in the United Nations during the Trump administration.
Ms. Thomas-Greenfield is “going to have to undo a lot of that work,” Ms. Frazer said. “But she’s the perfect person to do it, because of her diplomatic style.”
Throughout her diplomatic career, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield was known for mentoring young State Department staff, and for using an approach toward foreign policy that drew on relationships and personal connections, multiple former State Department officials said.
Dehab Ghebreab, a 27-year veteran of the Foreign Service who worked with her in Liberia, remembers one particular moment when Ms. Thomas-Greenfield was the ambassador posted in Monrovia.
In 2012, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield decided that the country’s rise in harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths needed to be addressed, Ms. Ghebreab said. To do so, she invited a group of eight people for lunch, and over a spread of gumbo, chicken, fish and rice, she brought together the country’s minister of information with two L.G.B.T. youths and members of the news media to talk and eat.
Hours after the country’s minister of information left, he released a statement condemning the rise in abuse, Ms. Ghebreab said, which caught some embassy staff by surprise, because most top politicians in the country had refused to address the issue.
“She’s very effective,” Ms. Ghebreab said.
Pranshu Verma reported from Washington, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Emily Cochrane contributed reporting from Washington.