The Women & The Career

Ambassador Joyce Barr

After more than 37 years of service, Ambassador Joyce Barr attained the personal rank of Career Minister. In addition to her tours in Sweden, Hungary, Kenya, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Malaysia, she was US Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia (2004-2007). Domestically,  she served as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Administration and Executive Director of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs Bureau. In 2018, Ambassador Barr was inducted into the United States National Defense University Hall of Fame. Read more here.

Ambassador Barbara K. Bodine

During her over thirty-year career, Ambassador Bodine focused primarily on the Arabian Peninsula and greater Persian Gulf, particularly on issues of strategic security, counterterrorism, and political reform. She served as US Ambassador to Yemen (1997-2001) and as Deputy Principal Officer in Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War. Ambassador Bodine was Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait at the time of the Iraqi invasion and throughout the occupation. She served twice in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, once as Deputy Director for the Arabian Peninsula, and is currently the Director of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University. Read more here.

“I’ve been shot at, hijacked, held hostage, and everything else but…I wouldn’t have traded it.”

Ambassador Susan Burk

Most recently serving as President Obama’s Special Representative on Nuclear Non-Proliferation (2009-2012), Ambassador Burk has dedicated her career in the Foreign Service to arms control, nuclear non-proliferation, and counter-terrorism. She has held several senior positions in the U.S. State Department, notably including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Nonproliferation and the first Deputy Coordinator for Homeland Security in the Office for the Coordinator of Counter-Terrorism. Ambassador Burke led the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty negotiations, creating weapon-free zones in Southeast and Central Asia. Read more here.

“If I’m going to get up and spend most of my waking hours away from my family. I want to feel like I’m doing something that, you know in the end and they say, well, what did you do? You know, that I can be proud of my work.”

Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis

Ambassador Butenis was the Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute before retiring in 2014 with the rank of Career Minister. She was Ambassador to Sri Lanka and to the Maldives (2009-2012), Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad from (2007-2009), and before then Ambassador to Bangladesh (2006-2007). Ambassador Butenis also served in Karachi, San Salvador and New Delhi, attended the National War College, served in the Visa Office, and was the Consul General in Warsaw and Bogotá. She is passionate about environmental conservation and animal welfare, and currently serves on the board of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance. Read more here.

Ambassador Aurelia E. Brazeal

Ambassador Brazeal served as US Ambassador to The Federated States of Micronesia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. She is the first African American woman Career Foreign Service Officer to be nominated as an Ambassador and has reached the rank of Career Minister. Ambassador Brazeal was also Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, first Deputy Director for Economics in the State Department Japan office, and President of the Association of Black American Ambassadors (ABAA). Read more here.

“People thought that if you wanted to succeed you had to act like a man… but that just wasn’t me.”

Ambassador Katherine H. Canavan

Since joining the Foreign Service in 1976, Ambassador Canavan served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Namibia, and the US Ambassador to both the Kingdom of Lesotho and Botswana. In her last posting, she acted as Civilian Deputy and Foreign Policy Advisor to ADM James G. Stavridis, the Commander of the United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.  Since retiring from the Department of State with the rank of Career Minister in 2011, Ambassador Canavan continues to provide her military expertise to various U.S. Government agencies, international, and non-governmental organizations. Read more here.

Ambassador Maura Connelly

Being raised in New Jersey served as an asset during Ambassador Connelly’s confirmation hearing for an Ambassadorship to Lebanon, where Senator Menendez stated that: “Anyone who was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, could probably do very well in Lebanon.” Before serving as Ambassador to Lebanon (2010-2013), Ambassador Connelly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (date needed), Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria (2008-09), and Political Minister-Counselor for the U.S. Embassy in London, U.K. (2005-08). Read more here.

Ms. Elizabeth L. Dibble

Currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Ms. Dibble started her career as a U.S. foreign service officer. During her thirty-six year long tenure as a diplomat, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at US embassies in London and Rome and held postings in Syria, Pakistan, Tunisia. Primarily focusing on Europe and the Middle East, Ms. Dibble acted as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Europe as well as for Near Eastern affairs. She was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs and served as Assistant Chief Textile Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. In 2009, Ms. Dibble was awarded a Presidential Meritorious Service Award. Read more here.

Ambassador Kathleen A. Doherty

Prior to serving as US Ambassador to the Republic of Cyprus (2015-2019), Ambassador Doherty acted as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Rome and Counselor for Economic Affairs in the US Embassy in London. During her career she also held postings in Moscow, Sao Paulo, and the Dominican Republic. In Washington, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Director for the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs. Read more here.

Ms. Paula Ann Doyle

After joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Paula Doyle transitioned to a career in the CIA, where she served as one of three Associate Deputy Directors of Operations (2014-2016) and the Deputy National Counterintelligence Executive (2012-2014) for the President and Intelligence Community. In addition to directing the Intelligence Community’s response to Edward Snowden’s theft and defection, Ms. Doyle also oversaw the US Damage Assessment for Private Manning’s intelligence release of unauthorized classified information to WikiLeaks. Read more here.

“I never felt it [being a woman] was a hinderance. Now part of it is the way I’m wired; nobody is going to diminish me. For women to feel diminished you have to give permission to feel diminished. But did I lose opportunities due to being a woman? Yes.”

Ambassador Nancy Ely-Raphel

Before Ely-Raphel served as US Ambassador to Slovenia (1998-2001), she served as the Coordinator for the Balkans and facilitated the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. Ely-Raphel established the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Read more here.

“The State Department is a tight-knit community. It really is a family and that has colored my experiences with the Foreign Service.”

Ambassador Vicki J. Huddleston

Beginning her overseas career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, Ambassador Huddleston has served as the US Ambassador to Madagascar and to Mali as well as US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa. She also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Africa (2009-2011). As former chief of the US Interests Section in Havana (1999-2000) and previously Director of Cuban Affairs in Washington, Ambassador Huddleston’s report about normalizing relations with Cuba was a blueprint for President Barack Obama’s diplomatic opening with Raúl Castro in 2014. Read more here.

“[Fidel Castro] said he was going to throw me out of the country, he held a big rally…and I think had I been a man he probably would have kicked me out.”

Ambassador Elizabeth Jones

During her 35-year career in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Jones served as Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia (2001-2005), Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Near East Bureau (1998-2000), Ambassador to Kazakhstan (1995-1998), and Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Embassy in Bonn Germany (1992-1993), among other assignments. In her role as Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia, she supervised 54 U.S. Embassies, designing policies for NATO and EU countries, in addition to Russia, Ukraine, and Central Asia. She is the daughter of Foreign Service Officers and attended high school in both Berlin and Moscow. Read more here.

Ambassador Laura E. Kennedy

Ambassador Laura Kennedy served almost four decades as a U.S. career diplomat.  She spent much of her career working in or on the former Soviet Union and served multiple assignments in Geneva and Vienna on multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation  (conventional, nuclear and biological) as well as a number of temporary assignments in New York, including the 2010 and 2015 NPT Review Conferences and heading the U.S. delegations to the UN Committee on Disarmament 2010-13.  Among other posts, she has served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkmenistan (2001-2003), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus (2004-2005), and U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (2010-2013). Read more here.

Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney

Ambassador Kenney has held several senior positions over her 30-year career in the Foreign Service, including the 32nd Counselor for the State Department (2016-2017), Ambassador to Thailand (2011-2014), Ambassador to the Philippines (2006-2009), and Ambassador to Ecuador (2002-2005). She led the transition from the Obama and Trump administration, managed the US response to the 2014 military coup in Thailand, and was granted a Distinguished Service Award by former Secretary of State John Kerry. She is well-known for her use of social media to promote U.S. interests overseas and launched the State Department’s first ever podcast, “Conversations on Leadership.” Read more here.

Ambassador Susan D. Page

Ambassador Susan D. Page was confirmed as the first-ever US Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan three months after the country secured its independence on July 9, 2011. During her career, Ambassador Page served as the Special Representative of the Secretary General to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support to Haiti, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to the African Union, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and head of rule of law programs for the UN. Currently, Ambassador Page teaches at University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and Michigan Law. Read more here.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield

During her 35-year career with the US Foreign Service, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield served as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Focusing on economic empowerment and governance, she led development of US policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield served as the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources. She was US Ambassador to Liberia (2008-2012) and has had postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. She currently leads the Albright Stonebridge Group’s Africa practice. Read more here.

“I never walked in the room as a woman, I walked in as the American representative. And that was my power. My job is not who I am, it is what I do.”

Ambassador Dawn M. Liberi

Ambassador Liberi started her career in Africa where she served in five posts with USAID over a span of twenty years. After serving as USAID Mission Director in Uganda (1998-2002) and Nigeria (2002-2005), Liberi was USAID Mission Director in Iraq (2006-2007) as well as Director of the Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA) office at US Embassy/Afghanistan (2009-2011). Liberi was appointed as US Ambassador to Burundi from 2012-2016. Read more here.

“When I was [the Senior Civilian, equivalent to a two star General] working with my colleagues out of the RC East in Bagram… My whole attitude was like, ‘I am not going to be the woman lagging behind, I am not going to be the civilian that can’t jump onto the helicopters like everyone else, no one is going to be carrying my armor.”

Ambassador Teresita C. Schaffer

A leading expert on South Asia, Ambassador Schaffer was US Ambassador to Sri Lanka (1992-1995). She’s served in embassies in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. In Washington, she was Director of the Office of International Trade and later Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia. Read more here.

“When I traveled in South Asia, outside of the capital, I had opportunities to speak to the women and the men. American men didn’t have this opportunity…But, if what you want to do is understand the society in which you are working, you kind of want to get both sides of the story.”

Ambassador Pamela Spratlen

Before serving as the US Ambassador to Uzbekistan (2015-2018) and the Kyrgyz Republic (2011-2014), Ambassador Spratlen was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan and Consul General in Vladivostok, Russia. In Washington, Ambassador Spratlen held several positions including Director of Western European Affairs, and Director of Central Asian Affairs. A career member of the Foreign Service, she spent her first tour in Guatemala (1990-1992). Read more here.

“You are part of a chain. There is a story: the story of the US and country X that’s being told, and you have the great fortune to be part of it.”

Ambassador Anne W. Patterson

An Arkansas native, Ambassador Patterson served as Ambassador to Egypt (2011-2013), to Pakistan (2007-2010), to Colombia (2000-2003) and to El Salvador (1997-2000). In addition to serving as Acting Representative for the US to the United Nations, she was also the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and North African Affairs at the Department of State. During her career, she led the US response to the Arab Spring in Egypt and instituted Plan Colombia, the US strategy aimed at combatting drug cartels and guerrillas in Colombia. Read more here.

“How I got into the Foreign Service…my mother saw an ad in a magazine saying ‘The Foreign Service Needs Women!’ So she said: ‘You’re not doing anything, go take this test.'”

Ambassador Robin Raphel

Ambassador Raphel launched the Congressionally-mandated South Asia Bureau at the Department of State as the first Assistant Secretary of State for that region. She was one of the first senior officials to meet with the Taliban as part of a US effort to encourage an end to the civil war. Additionally, Ambassador Raphel has worked to improve ties with Pakistan, where US sanctions had terminated assistance and soured relations with this large, strategically located Muslim country. She served as Ambassador to Tunisia (1997-2000). Read more here.

“The goal of diplomacy is to get the other party to do what you want.  To be successful, you need to keep your eye on the ball, and not be distracted by emotional, subjective arguments.” (edited from audio for context)

Ambassador Marcie Berman Ries

After leading the US Mission in Pristina, Ambassador Ries had two additional assignments in the Balkans. She served as US Ambassador to Albania (2004-2007) and Bulgaria (2012-2015). In Washington, Ambassador Ries was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. As the Director of the State Department’s Office of United Nations Political Affairs, she organized support for US representatives in the General Assembly following 9/11. Ambassador Ries was also a senior member of the team that negotiated the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Read more here.

“Women can be very observant, and I think that characteristic is an asset because diplomacy is all about relationships.”

Ambassador Sally Shelton-Colby

Before serving as Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD in Paris, Ambassador Shelton-Colby was Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Global Programmes at USAID. She served as US Ambassador to several Eastern Caribbean nations, including Granada and Barbados, and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. Currently, Ambassador Shelton-Colby is a Hurst Senior Professorial Lecturer at the School of International Service at American University. Read more here.

“Little by little the world is getting used to people of color [in leadership positions] and women, but god does it take a long time.”

Ambassador Pamela White

After volunteering for the Peace Corps in Cameroon, Ambassador White joined USAID and worked in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Haiti, Egypt, South Africa.  She was mission director in Mali, Tanzania, and Liberia. In Washington, Ambassador White served as Deputy Director for East Africa. As US Ambassador to Haiti (2012-2015) Ambassador White facilitated the country’s recovery after its 2010 earthquake. She was appointed US Ambassador to The Gambia by Obama in 2010. Read more here.

“I think women, especially the women I respect the most, are so much better at planning and getting the information they need, and then doing really good analysis and then coming to a decision based on all the information they have.”