Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina: Who Is Maureen Cormack?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

On January 6, 2014, President Barack Obama nominated Maureen Cormack, a career Foreign Service officer, as ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina. On March 6, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing to consider her nomination.

 

Cormack received her B.A. in performing arts management from the University of Illinois and did not go immediately into government service. She worked for a Chicago law firm, Shefsky, Saitlin, and Froelich, and from 1980 to 1985 she worked for the Ravinia Festival, an outdoor music series near Chicago, in fundraising, public relations, and artistic management. The Festival is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

 

Cormack then attended the University of Chicago, earning an M.A. in international relations in 1989. At that point, she joined the State Department. Much of her career in the Foreign Service has been spent in public and cultural affairs. Cormack’s first assignments were as director of the American Centers in Kwangju, South Korea and Warsaw, Poland. In the mid-1990s, she was back in Washington as European personnel officer for the former U.S. Information Agency.

 

In 1999, Cormack was in France as deputy cultural attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Paris and as first consul at the American Presence Post in western France, covering the regions of Brittany, Normandy, and the Loire.

 

Cormack returned to South Korea in 2002 as press attaché at the embassy in Seoul, remaining there until 2005. At that time, she became a Pearson Fellow, working on Capitol Hill. The Pearson Fellowships allow Foreign Service officers to spend a year learning about the inner workings of Congress. Cormack worked with the House Homeland Security Committee.

 

In 2006, Cormack moved back to the State Department, becoming deputy director for Korean Affairs, serving in that post until 2009. Towards the end of her tenure, she helped deal with the arrest of two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, by North Korea. The two were eventually freed after negotiations between former U.S. President Bill Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

 

Cormack moved over to become director of the Office of Western European Affairs, where she served until 2010. Cormack then was named executive assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. In July 2011, Cormack became principal deputy coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs. On April 15, 2013, she was promoted to acting coordinator for international programs after a critical report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General led to the resignation of Coordinator Dawn McCall.

 

Cormack’s husband, William, is a construction engineer with the State Department. The Cormacks have three children, Elizabeth, Margaret and William.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

Statement to Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (pdf)

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