Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives: Who Is Michele Sison?

Saturday, April 21, 2012
The political crises of the Indian Ocean island nations of Sri Lanka, which is emerging from a 25-year long civil war that killed about 100,000 people, and Maldives, still reeling from a recent coup, will likely seem unhappily familiar to President Obama’s nominee for next U.S. ambassador, who has previously served in such war-torn nations as Lebanon and Iraq.
Born May 27, 1959, in Arlington, Virginia, Michele J. Sison is the first Filipino-American ambassador from the United States. Her mother is Veronica Sison and her father, Pablo B. Sison, was originally from the province of Pangasinan in the Philippines. Sison earned her BA in Political Science from Wellesley College in 1981 and also studied at the London School of Economics.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Sison joined the State Department in 1982 and served early career foreign postings as a consular official in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, from 1982 to 1984; Lomé, Togo, from 1984 to 1988; Cotonou, Benin, from 1988 to 1991; Douala, Cameroon, from 1991 to 1993; and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 1993 to 1996. She served as consul general at the U.S. consulate general in Chennai, India, from 1996 to 1999, and as deputy chief of mission and chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, from 1999 to 2002.
Sison served as principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs from 2002 to 2004, after which she was appointed ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, where she served from July 2004 to January 2008. From the UAE she went to Lebanon, serving in Beirut as chargé d’affaires ad interim starting in February and as ambassador from June 2008 to August 2010. On June 18, 2008, she was involved in a particularly unpleasant incident. During a visit to U.S.-sponsored projects in the town of Nabatiyeh in southern Lebanon, her motorcade was stoned by anti-American militants.
Since her tour in Lebanon, Sison has served as assistant chief of mission for Law Enforcement and Rule of Law Assistance in Baghdad, Iraq. She has also served as director of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources.
Sison has two daughters, Alexandra and Jessica. She is separated from her husband, Jeffrey Jones Hawkins.
-Matt Bewig



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