Diplomats in Residence

Diplomats in Residence (DIRs) are career Foreign Service Officers and Specialists located throughout the U.S. who provide guidance and advice on careers, internships and fellowships to students and professionals in the communities they serve. DIRs are available to answer questions and share insight with those interested in Foreign and Civil Service careers, internships and fellowships.

Please take the time to get to know our site. When you’re ready, contact a DIR closest to your geographic location who will answer your questions. Just rollover the interactive map below and click on your region. You can also find local events under the “Connect” section.

Please refer to the Department’s privacy policy if providing personally identifiable information in your email inquiry.

Dorothy Ngutter, Diplomat in Residence
(AK, Northern CA, OR, WA)

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Region: Northwest
Location: University of California, Berkeley
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Tours: National Security Affairs Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA; Deputy Political Counselor, U.S. Embassy Ankara, Turkey; Office of the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Washington, DC; Peru Desk, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Washington, DC; State Department Operations Center, Washington DC; U.S. Mission to NATO, Brussels, Belgium; U.S. Embassy, Bamako, Mali
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 13
Prior Experience: NGO: Immigration Program Assistant, Executive Assistant; Software Companies: Technical Writing intern
Languages: Turkish, Spanish, and basic French and Swahili
Education: Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, Medford, MA; BA, Northeastern University, Boston, MA
Interesting Experience: I joined the Foreign Service as it presented a career that synched my interest in international affairs, curiosity about other cultures, love of languages, and commitment to public service. It was, however, the incredible experiences on my first tour in Bamako, Mali that got me “hooked” on the Foreign Service. Whether taking a visiting U.S. delegation on a tour of the Mosque of Djenné, liaising with our military to provide training to Malian forces, or standing on the tarmac as part of the diplomatic corps to welcome visiting heads of state, my first tour provided a great foundation for me to engage and grow as a professional. It also solidified my decision to serve my country as a U.S. diplomat. As a Consular-Political Officer, I came to appreciate one of the core missions of the State Department — helping American citizens. In subsequent assignments I worked with diplomats from Allied countries in the multilateral work of U.S. Mission NATO, and had the opportunity to work on a Press Team leading up to the 2006 NATO Summit in Riga, Latvia. As Peru Desk Officer, I learned to work with other U.S. government agencies, think-tanks, and non-government organizations on issues related to the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement with Peru. In Turkey, I was honored to serve as part of a great team of professionals on vital issues that impacted U.S.-Turkey relations, including the Syria crisis. The varied assignments I’ve had in Foreign Service have enhanced my knowledge, skills, and ability to understand different perspectives, while telling America’s story abroad.
Last Post: National Security Affairs Fellow, Hoover Institution
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Melissa Martinez, Diplomat in Residence
(Southern CA, HI, NV)

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Region: Southern California
Location: UCLA
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Tours: Mexico City, Mexico, Deputy Press Attaché; Miami, FL, Director, Media Hub of the Americas; San Jose, Costa Rica, Press Attaché; Washington, DC, Policy Officer, Bureau of International Information Programs; Mexico City, Mexico, Consular Officer; Montevideo, Uruguay Deputy Public Affairs Officer
Career Track: Public Diplomacy
Years of Service: 14
Prior Career: Research Assistant, United Nations Development Program, United Nations, New York, New York;
Event Coordinator & Fundraiser, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Languages: Spanish, Portuguese
Education: MA, Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, New York, New York;
BA, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Interesting Experience: As a communications professional who has spent the majority of my career doing press and public relations work as well as educational and cultural outreach, my job is to tell America’s story, informing our global audiences about why diplomacy matters and how diplomacy changes lives.  Figuring out the recipe of what traditional and innovative communication platforms are most effective in channeling our messaging efforts to inform, educate, and inspire action is the foundation of the work I have carried out throughout my career as a Public Diplomacy Officer.  I have learned that being an effective diplomat starts with simply being present.  I have had the chance to be present and tell America’s stories of goodwill through messaging efforts to ensure the Costa Rican public was well aware of all the incredible work being done to provide humanitarian assistance to the ‘ticos’ of Costa Rica who lived in remote areas of the countryside and were in desperate need of medical and dental care, school repairs, or lacked basic supplies. I have had the chance to be present as a Consular Officer in Mexico helping Americans in need resolving welfare and whereabouts cases and reuniting families.  I have had the chance to be present in amplifying U.S. foreign policy messaging to Latin American audiences as an official spokesperson for the Department of State in Miami, FL.  I have had the chance to be present standing in front of Uruguayan students hungry to learn, yearning for a greater future, and who were grateful that I was present.
Last Post: U.S. Embassy Mexico City working as the Deputy Press Attaché
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Kenneth Chavez, Diplomat in Residence
(AZ, NM, Western TX)

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Region: Southwest
Location: University of New Mexico
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Tours: Guadalajara, Mexico, Consular Officer; Beijing, China, Consular Officer; Washington, D.C., State Department Operations Center, Watch Officer; Washington, D.C., Bureau of Consular Affairs, Spokesperson and Media Unit Chief; Managua, Nicaragua, Deputy Consul General.
Career Track: Consular
Years of Service: 12
Prior Career: Sales and Operations Manager, Apple, Inc.
Languages: Spanish, Chinese
Education: University of Texas at Austin, B.A. in English; University of Texas at Austin, M.A. in English/Creative Writing
Interesting Experience: The most memorable moments are when you realize you’ve had a meaningful impact on someone’s life. As consular officers, we assist people during some of their happiest moments—approving a newborn baby’s first U.S. passport; processing an immigrant visa for a U.S. family adopting a child overseas, a visa to the winner of the Diversity Visa Lottery, or a student visa to someone who has worked hard and is on his or her way to accomplishing great things. We are also there, however, during some of life’s most difficult moments—informing a family of a loved one’s death overseas, assisting victims of crime in a foreign country, or visiting U.S. citizens detained in foreign jails. The moments when someone stops to say ‘thank you for your help’ are among the most priceless moments in this career.
Last Post: Managua, Nicaragua
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Stewart Devine, Diplomat in Residence
(CO, ID, MT, UT, WY)

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Region: Rocky Mountains
Location: University of Denver
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Tours: Cairo, Egypt; Suva, Fiji Islands; Seoul, South Korea (2 tours); Yokohama, Japan; Osaka-Kobe, Japan; Washington, DC; Frankfurt, Germany; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Baghdad, Iraq (2 tours); Bangkok, Thailand
Career Track: Management
Years of Service: 35
Prior Career: U.S. Army Officer (Lieutenant Colonel)
Languages: Japanese
Education: BS Florida International University
Interesting Experience: Indeed, I am both humbled and grateful for wonderful experiences of being exposed to diverse people and cultures from around the world, and doing some of the most interesting work imaginable! Whether touring the great pyramids, riding camels, and coordinating selected administrative support efforts for the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State during my tour in Egypt; working as a Staff Officer in Secretary Powell’s Executive Secretariat; as Country Director in Iraq coordinating the Department’s and the Embassy’s in-country Iraqi refugees and internally-displaced persons (very heartfelt and meaningful on so many levels); or when, as the primary negotiator, I was part of the senior Embassy team who returned former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s massive palace (and former Embassy location) to the elected Government of Iraq, all of the work was absolutely exciting.
But there’s so much more! As a previous U.S. National Foreign Affairs Training Center (NFATC) Adjunct Faculty member, I delivered Customer Service, Communications Skills, Team Building and other training workshops to locals throughout Europe and Central Asia. When I saw the light of understanding in their eyes and by their comprehending and positive comments, then I knew that the best aspects of our two cultures combined would move them forward in their professional and personal development.
I have been assigned or traveled to countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Far East Asia, the Pacific, South America, and Africa. Although my story is similar to so many others in the Foreign Service, the personal experiences are unique and humbling to me as an individual. For those of you who decide to seek the challenge of becoming part of this unique profession, you too will make the subsequent experiences unique to your desires, aspirations, and personal/professional growth.
Last Post: U.S. Embassy The Hague, Netherlands, as the Counselor for Management Affairs
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Floyd Cable, Diplomat in Residence
(TX)

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Region: Texas
Location: University of Texas at Austin
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Tours: Management (MGT) Counselor, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; MGT Counselor, Abuja, Nigeria; MGT Counselor, Islamabad, Pakistan; MGT Counselor, Santiago, Chile; Supervisory General Services Officer, La Paz, Bolivia; Post Management Officer, East Asia & Pacific Bureau, Washington, D.C.; Financial Management & Human Resources Officer, Havana, Cuba; Assistant General Services Officer, Rome, Italy; Administrative & Consular Officer, Medan, Indonesia; Consular Officer, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Career Track: Management
Years of Service: 30
Prior Career: English as a Second Language teacher (overseas); counselor in higher education; Semester At Sea staffer; homeless shelter counselor; golf course maintenance/landscaping worker; university summer paint crew chief; beer distributorship deliveryman; warehouse & factory worker; office temp.
Languages: Spanish, Italian
Education: M.S. in Strategic Studies – National War College, National Defense University; M.S. in TESOL – State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany; M.S. & C.A.S. – Counseling Psychology & Student Development – SUNY Albany; B.A. Psychology SUNY-Binghamton; A.A. Liberal Arts – Rockland Community College.
Interesting Experience: A great many Americans have the good fortune to visit Rome and see its many cultural and historical treasures, but few have the chance to protect and maintain some of the city’s irreplaceable works of art. During my assignment to Embassy Rome, I prepared and signed contracts for projects at the Embassy compound and at the Ambassador’s residence to restore and preserve more than one hundred marble statues that the U.S. acquired when it bought the two properties after WWII. We also completed other restoration projects in the main Embassy building, the Palazzo Margherita (named for and once occupied by the last Queen of Italy, and after whom Pizza Margherita is named). Those projects included the curatorial cleaning and preservation of 19th-century frescoes and rare, historic furniture. During that same time I also was glad to participate in a project that saved the two oldest sycamore trees in Rome, and created a quiet memorial garden between and around those trees. That garden was later named after a long-serving Foreign Service Officer who died shortly after leaving Rome. Years later during a Washington assignment, I found myself advising Embassy Beijing on the next steps to take when a construction project for an Embassy office building unearthed Ming Dynasty graves and cultural artifacts.
Last Post: Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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Kali Jones, Diplomat in Residence
(AR, LA, MS)

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Region: Central South
Location: Tulane University
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Tours: Ho Chi Minch City, Vietnam; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Operations Center; Morocco desk; Brasilia, Brazil; Office of the Counselor

Career Track: Economic
Years of Service: 14
Prior Career: Yogurt Hostess; Attorney; Judicial Clerk; University Program Director and lecturer; Yoga Instructor
Languages: French, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Vietnamese
Education: Bachelor of Art, Howard University; Juris Doctorate, Master of Science of Public Health, Tulane University
Last Post: Executive Secretariat, Advance and Staffing Division
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Robert Andrew, Diplomat in Residence
(KS, MO, NE, OK, SD)

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Region: Central
Location: University of Oklahoma
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Tours: Mexico City (Consular officer), Moscow (Political/Military officer), San Jose (Political/Narcotics Affairs Officer), Stockholm (Political Section Chief)
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 28
Prior Career: U.S. Army officer from 1989-2002, including assignments in Germany; Fort Sill, OK; Fort Hood, TX; and Presidio of Monterey, CA. Served in the First Gulf War (1991).
Languages: Spanish, Swedish, Russian, French
Education: BA in Political Science from California State University, Chico. MA in National Security Affairs from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
Interesting Experience: In Mexico City I was conducting a non-immigrant visa interview and I noted the candidate used Spanish words only used in my home state of California and not in Mexico. When I asked him if he had been to the U.S. and spoke English, he said no to both but I did not believe him and decided that he was not qualified for the visa. Before he left the window, he used several expletives in perfect (California) English to tell me just how disappointed he was! In Moscow, I helped prepare a brief visit by President Bush to President Putin at the Moscow airport…let’s just say that I was impressed with Putin’s ability to transform himself from former KGB agent to being “presidential” just before President Bush arrived. In Costa Rica, part of my job as the Narcotics Affairs Officer was ensuring that the Costa Ricans were properly using equipment that my office had donated to them to use. During one particular occasion, we visited an armory with U.S.-made M-16 rifles. They assured me that they took good care of the weapons and that they were clean and in good condition. You can imagine their surprise when, using my previous military knowledge, I showed them how to field strip and clean the rifle and pointed out just how dirty the weapons actually were. Their jaws dropped to the floor and they promised to take better care of the equipment! I also assisted the U.S. military in humanitarian support to indigenous communities in Costa Rica. When we visited one particular village deep in the jungle that was a bit hesitant to welcome us, I noticed that they had some nice horses and asked if I could ride one of them. After some discussion, including laughter, that I might fall off and hit my head, I showed them my equestrian skills (learned from a previous chapter of my life) and rode one of the horses perfectly. This helped break the ice and they immediately became more comfortable with us and deeply appreciated our assistance. Finally, in Sweden, I found out that the house that I was assigned to live in used to be owned by and lived in by one of the members of the band ABBA! How is that for a coincidence!?
Last Post: Political Section Chief at U.S. Embassy Stockholm, Sweden.
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Robert Neus, Diplomat in Residence
(IA, IL, MN, ND, WI)

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Region: Midwest
Location: University of Illinois at Chicago
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Tours: Zagreb, Croatia; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Bogota, Colombia; Havana, Cuba; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Career Track: Consular
Years of Service: 18
Prior Career: Peace Corps Volunteer and trainer, marketing representative in Italy, MTV intern, small business owner.
Languages: Croatian, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and very basic Guarani
Education: BA, MBA, University of Notre Dame.  Study abroad programs in Rome and London.
Interesting Experiences: From commuting to work in an armored van in Bogota to serving as duty officer responsible for all American citizen emergencies during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro to assisting refugees in Havana, every day is interesting.  It is not uncommon to spend a morning visiting an incarcerated American, followed by delivering a demarche at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the same afternoon. As consular officers speak with host country nationals from members of parliament to members of the FARC, we really get to experience a cross-section of society. Some of my favorite memories involved sharing American culture – through a Public Affairs Section-sponsored outreach event for European college students interested in American educational opportunities – or watching the surprised and delighted faces of international visitors attending our embassy’s Halloween event, complete with a U.S. Marine Corps haunted house.

I recently attended a small dinner with consuls from six foreign embassies and an Assistant Secretary of State to discuss different country’s approaches to crisis response.  It was a fantastic opportunity to share stories and resources and very relevant as we all have the same concerns and goal in protecting our citizens.  I’m especially proud to have played a small role in Operation Safe Return.  The Department of State, the Department of Defense, and dozens of other U.S. government agencies worked seamlessly in the mass evacuation of Haitians and Americans after the largest earthquake ever recorded in Haiti devastated its capital and most of the infrastructure.  For approximately six weeks, shifts worked around the clock to help victims of the disaster get to safety in Santo Domingo and then onward to the United States.  I worked with my colleagues out of a hot, dusty hangar at a Dominican Air Force base, where the evacuees arrived by helicopter and bus throughout the night.  Many had just been pulled from the rubble and hadn’t eaten in days.  We had medical care ready, phones, food, diapers and more.  It was exhilarating, fulfilling and heart-breaking at the same time.
Last Post: Consular Section Chief, U.S. Embassy Zagreb, where I oversaw assistance to U.S. citizens in Croatia and immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services. I was also a member of the Emergency Action Committee and the Croatia Consular Corps; I served as one of the U.S. Ambassador’s representatives to the board of the American International School, and I was the chairperson of the International Cooperative Administrative Support Services Committee, which makes resource decisions for the Embassy.
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Andrew Mann, Diplomat in Residence
(IN, KY, MI, OH)

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Region: KY, MI, OH
Region: North Central
Location: University of Michigan
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Tours: Ciudad Juárez, Mexico (Consular Officer); Bombay, India (Political-Economic Officer); Washington, DC (Watch Officer, Operations Center; Arms Control Officer; Yugoslav Desk Officer; Attorney Advisor, Office of the Legal Advisor); The Hague, Netherlands (Expert on Mission, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; Head of Global Issues Section; Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs); Seattle, WA (Pearson Fellow, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington); Colombo, Sri Lanka (Head of Political Affairs; Deputy Chief of Mission/Charge’); Brcko, Bosnia (Special Assistant to the Supervisor of Brcko); Kabul, Afghanistan (Deputy Director, PRT Office; Deputy Rule of Law Coordinator; Director, Force Reintegration Cell, ISAF HQ); Tikrit, Iraq (Team Leader, PRT Salah ad Din); Boston, MA (State Department Fellow, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University); Darfur, Sudan (Reporting Officer, US Embassy Field Office – TDY).
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 31
Prior Career: Attorney
Languages: Spanish (and a bit of Dutch)
Education: BA History, Wake Forest University; JD, College of Law, University of Idaho
Interesting Experience: My cousin served as a prosecutor under Justice Robert H. Jackson at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII. Almost 50 years later, I was honored to follow in his footsteps and be among the 20+ U.S. Government employees (FBI, Department of Justice, State, Department of Defense) seconded to the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to examine the evidence and bring to justice those accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Yugoslav War. Combining Law and Order investigation efforts with legal trailblazing, It was a fascinating multi-national effort to develop rules for taking testimony and evidence by a UN court, draft elements of crime, prepare indictments, and bring alleged wrongdoers to crime.
Last Post: Deputy Chief of Mission, US Embassy Colombo
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Isiah Parnell, Diplomat in Residence
(Northern AL, Northern GA, TN)

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Region: South
Location: Morehouse-Spelman
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Tours: Hermosillo, Mexico; Asunción, Paraguay; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; Monterrey, Mexico; Nuevo Laredo, Mexico; Panama City, Panama; Accra, Ghana; Mexico City, Mexico; Kingston, Jamaica; Nairobi, Kenya.
Career Track: Management
Years of Service: 32
Prior Career: U.S. Army Officer
Languages: Spanish
Education: BA and MA, The College of William and Mary; MA, Virginia Commonwealth University; ND, Ph.D Program The University of Colorado at Denver.
Interesting Experience: A group of 20 or so embassy employees teamed up with the Accra Chapter of Habitat for Humanity and ventured far outside the capital to help local families build affordable housing. Upon arrival in a distant village, we followed local custom and went to pay our respects to the local Chief. The Chief, who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s, entered the room with an entourage of about 15 people, including a distinguished looking gentleman who served as his translator. As the senior member of the Embassy group, I exchanged pleasantries with the Chief and the larger group through the translator, who struggled mightily with English. As the conversation was drawing to a close after 20 minutes of a painstakingly difficult interaction and we were making our way out of the room, the Chief stood and said in perfect English: “Hey, brother, how about those New Jersey Nets!” “Yes”, he continued, “I followed them closely when I lived in New Jersey for years, before I was summoned back home to serve as Chief.”
There are two morals to this vignette:
– There are always opportunities to volunteer while serving overseas and these interactions with locals are just as important in promoting American values as the more formal diplomatic exchanges.
– No matter where you find yourself, never assume that you’re not understood by everyone in the room.
Last Post: Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy Nairobi, Kenya
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Amy Radetsky, Diplomat in Residence
(Southern AL, Northern FL, Southern GA)

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Region: Southeast
Location: FAMU – Tallahassee
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Tours: Sao Paulo, Brazil (Consular and Political Officer); AF Bureau (Rwanda Desk Officer); WHA Bureau (Brazil Desk Officer); Tijuana, Mexico (Political-Economic Chief); Office of Central American Affairs (Deputy Director); Operations Center (Senior Watch Officer); Rio de Janeiro (Political-Economic Chief)
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 16
Prior Career: Teaching
Languages: Spanish, Portuguese
Education: B.S. Political Science and Education, Boston University
Interesting Experience: For me, the most interesting part of living overseas is learning how much we, as human beings, are alike. When we are preparing to travel overseas, we are often beset by stories of cultural differences and misunderstandings. It’s been gratifying to me to witness how untrue many of these stereotypes are. At heart, most people, or groups of people, want the same things – the ability to live life on their own terms, to prosper, and to be part of a community. I believe this holds true in all the places I have travelled: Africa, Latin America, Japan, and elsewhere.
As Foreign Service Officers, we have the opportunity to harness these commonalities to promote USG values of democracy, freedom, and economic liberalism. The most interesting experiences are discussing these topics with leaders from other countries and hearing how their communities pursue these goals.
Last Post: Rio de Janeiro, leading reporting for a four-state consular district; focus on the oil and gas industry, local politics, and the business environment.
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Catherine Rodriguez, Diplomat in Residence
(Southern FL)

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Region: South Florida
Location: FIU & Miami Dade College
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Tours: Peshawar, Pakistan; Miami, Fl; New York City, NY; Karachi, Pakistan; Washington, DC; New Delhi, India
Career Track: Management
Years of Service: 13
Prior Career: Eligible Family Member, US Department of State; Foreign Service Officer, USAID; Employee at a Family Owned Business
Languages: Spanish
Education: Bachelor in Business Administration, Florida International University; Master’s in Business Administration, Florida International University ; Masters in Accounting, Florida International University ; Master’s in Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy, Columbia University
Interesting Experience: While assigned as the Regional Director of the Office of Foreign Missions in Miami, I swore in 200 new American citizens. My parents sat in those very seats some 40 years ago. I recounted my story of growing up in an immigrant family. I instilled the lessons provided by my family’s experience and provided guidance on becoming productive U.S. citizens.

During my assignment as Management Officer in Consulate Karachi, I worked with a local NGO on a turtle conservation project. The highlight was going to release baby turtles on a dark night on an obscure Karachi beach. There I witnessed both Americans and Pakistanis working together to shepherd these endangered creatures to the water’s edge with a singular focus of increasing their chances for survival.

During my assignment in Peshawar, I lead a young woman’s book club where we discussed a number of American works. One of the students commented that after reading one of the books, she realized that we have more in common with each other than we have differences. Engaging in personal diplomacy through different channels is a great way to further our diplomatic goals.

I have served in many capacities during my career in the Foreign Service. I worked as a spouse / eligible family member, a specialist, a generalist and as an officer in another foreign affairs agency. These domestic and international assignments have shown me that every person within the foreign affairs community plays an important role in furthering the diplomatic goals of the United States.
Last Post: As the Management Officer in Peshawar, Pakistan, I supervised four Americans and 90 members of the local national staff. I oversaw the day to day management of all the administrative functions of the Consulate working under the most austere conditions within the Foreign Service. We completed numerous critical infrastructure projects creating a safer, more efficient and more livable environment for our staff.
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Jasper Daniels, Diplomat in Residence
(NC, SC, Southern VA)

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Region: Mid-Atlantic
Location: Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Tours: Algiers, Algeria; Panama City, Panama; Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire; Mexico City, Mexico; Bangkok, Thailand; Washington, DC; San Jose, Costa Rica; Athens, Greece; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Tempe, Arizona
Career Track: Information Management
Years of Service: 31
Prior Career: General Services Administration, United States Army
Languages: Spanish, Hindi, Bengali
Education: A.B. Political Science, College of the Holy Cross
Interesting Experience: I consider my entire career with the Department of State as interesting and exciting. As you will probably gather from the many tours that my family and I have experienced, traveling in general has been a large part of my family’s existence. Learning new cultures and participating in local events in a host country is always exciting, but even more so when you can boast of a perfect picture backdrop, from your balcony or front/back yard, of the Mediterranean Sea – Algiers; the Bridge of the Americas or the Panama Canal – Panama; the Atlantic Ocean – Freetown; or the Caribbean Sea to the north or the Pacific Ocean to the south – San Jose!

While assigned to an Embassy overseas, I’ve had several interesting experiences. One such experience was in Freetown, Sierra Leone. When the incumbent Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) transferred to a new assignment I was designated as the acting DCM for roughly six months. When the Ambassador is traveling outside of the host country, the DCM is designated Charge’ – temporarily assuming the Ambassador’s portfolio. On one occasion when I was designated Charge’ the Embassy received an invite from the Office of the President of Sierra Leone to attend a welcoming ceremony for newly arrived USAID workers. I also had to deliver remarks to the audience on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. At the last minute the President of Sierra Leone had to withdraw from the ceremony but I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the vice President of Sierra Leone and other Cabinet level Sierra Leonean officials.

An even more interesting experience I had was on personal travel while assigned to Bangkok, Thailand.  My wife and I took a weekend trip to one of the islands south of Bangkok.  When checking into the hotel, we were treated very courteously … not unusual for Thailand.  But later that evening sitting in the lounge area enjoying cocktails and the local entertainments, suddenly, everything goes quiet and everyone is looking at me and my wife.  The host then announces our names and asks if we come up and sing one of our “hit” songs for them!  We were stunned and speechless, but no, we did not oblige their request and we were still treated as VIP patrons of the establishment.

Last Post: Diplomat in Residence- Southwest
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Usha Pitts, Diplomat in Residence
(NJ, NY, PA)

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Region: New York Metro
Location: City College of New York
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Tours: Vienna, Rome, Washington, Havana, Moscow, Panama City
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 19
Prior Career: The Foreign Service was my first career, but I’ve had lots of previous jobs – bartender, bus driver, valet parker, and community volunteer.  In fact, any job that teaches you how to interact with people (like bartending) can help you become a good diplomat.   
Languages: German, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese
Education: B.A. from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, M.A. from George Washington University
Interesting Experience: I used to put on my flip-flops and roam around Havana, trying to figure out how the Cuban economy worked and how Cubans survived within it.  Because of my brown skin, most Cubans never thought I was an American diplomat and weren’t afraid to talk to me.  I learned a lot about real life in Cuba just by talking to people.  It was like working under cover… without being under cover! 
Last Post: Consul General in Recife, Brazil.  I oversaw a small post of 20 American diplomats and around 80 Brazilians.  We focused on improving educational and commercial ties with the U.S., and sent tens of thousands of Brazilian tourists to visit Miami and New York City.  I loved Brazilian carnival (of course) but the high point of my three years in Brazil was receiving Vice President Biden for the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
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Jon Danilowicz, Diplomat in Residence
(CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)

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Region: New England
Location: Tufts University
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Tours: Peshawar, Pakistan; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Islamabad, Pakistan; Panama City, Panama; Maputo, Mozambique; Harare, Zimbabwe; Washington, DC
Career Track: Political Affairs
Years of Service: 26
Prior Career: N/A
Languages: Bengali, Portuguese, Spanish
Education: MA U.S. Naval War College; BSFS Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Interesting Experience: During two different postings decades apart in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I was present when devastating cyclones battered the country’s coastal region. In 1991, as a first tour officer I was assigned as the Embassy’s liaison officer to the U.S. Joint Task Force that arrived to help coordinate relief operations in Chittagong, Bangladesh during Operation Sea Angel.  Sixteen years later, I was serving again in Dhaka as Acting Deputy Chief of Mission when another category five cyclone arrived, prompting an interagency U.S. response during Operations Sea Angel 2. Thanks to the advances in disaster preparedness and response made in Bangladesh during the intervening years, with assistance from the United States, the loss of life in the 2007 storm was only a fraction of that suffered in 1991.  
Last Post: Consul General, Peshawar, Pakistan
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Elise Kleinwaks, Diplomat in Residence
(DC, DE, MD, Northern VA, W VA)

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Region: DC Metro
Location: Howard University
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Tours: Tel Aviv, Managua, Hanoi, Sarajevo, Washington including: desk officer in EAP, EUR, and WHA; PRM – Deputy Director Office of Refugee Admissions;  FSI – Director of Orientation; HR -Deputy Director of Entry Level Generalists and Board of Examiners
Career Track: Political
Years of Service: 29
Prior Career: International Trade Officer – Commerce Department; Budget and Finance Assistant – Harper and Row Publishers
Languages: Vietnamese, Spanish, Bosnian, some Hebrew
Education: MPA Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University;
B.A. State University of New York at Albany;
The Bronx High School of Science
Interesting Experience: When I started my 28 year career I could not dreamed of the places I’d go and the experiences I’d have.  Being sent to Hanoi to be part of the team that helped re-establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam was humbling.  Whether involved in negotiations with the Foreign Ministry, travelling to nearly every province in Vietnam to interact with the people, or facilitating reconciliation trips for returning American veterans of the Vietnam War, I took pride in representing the United State and moving forward our bilateral relations.  Watching a U.S. funded demining programs at work in Nicaragua or monitoring our refugee processing programs in Africa are but two examples of the humanitarian work we make possible throughout the world in which I participated.  What never ceases to amaze me is the lives that we touch and the impact that we have.
Last Post: Assessor, Board of Examiners
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