Ambassador to Laos: Who is Karen Stewart?

Saturday, January 01, 2011
After 33 years in the Foreign Service, Karen B. Stewart received her second appointment to be an ambassador when President Barack Obama selected her for the top U.S. diplomatic post in Laos. She was sworn in on October 25, 2010. She previously served twice in Laos, first as an economic reporting officer in the 1980s and then as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires from 1999-2001.
A native of Florida, Stewart graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in astronomy and economics from Wellesley College (1973) and pursued further studies in astronomy at the University of Virginia.
Stewart joined the Foreign Service in 1977. Her overseas assignments have taken her to Bangkok and Udorn, Thailand; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Islamabad, Pakistan; and Minsk, Belarus (as deputy chief of mission).
In Washington she has served as international relations officer in the State Department’s Office of Fisheries Affairs, economic officer in the Office of Energy Consuming Countries, and economic/commercial desk officer in the Office of Israel and Arab-Israeli Affairs. Later, she was the director of the Office of Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus Affairs in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
In 1998, she earned an MS in national security strategy from the National War College of the National Defense University at Ft. McNair.
In July 2006, President George W. Bush nominated Stewart to be U.S. ambassador to Belarus and she arrived in Minsk on September 18. Following the U.S. imposition of economic sanctions against Belarus’ national oil company, the Belarusan dictator, Aleksandr Lukashenko, forced Stewart to leave the country on March 12, 2008.
On July 1, 2008, Stewart became principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
In February 2010, she was made special advisor to the director general of the Foreign Service. Four months later, she was appointed ambassador to Laos.
She speaks Thai, Lao and Russian.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Official Biography (State Department)


Nina Vongphinith 10 years ago
hi ambassador karen stewart, my mother in law just recently received approval to come to us under petition for relative form i-130, but when she was schdule to go get her visa on 2/29/2012 she was told it will not be issue because of a name issue. her document with uscis is all under sinakhone vilaysane. we were so excited that she was approved at her interview we even booked her ticket which is to depart from laos on march 13th, we have waited so long to reunite my husband with his mother after 15 years. please help and advise thank you

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