Ambassador to Swaziland: Who Is Earl Irving?

Sunday, January 23, 2011
The U.S. ambassador to Swaziland, a small absolute monarchy in Africa with the highest prevalence of HIV and AIDS in the world, is a specialist in African affairs.  Earl M. Irving was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 31, 2009, and sworn-in on August 27, 2009.  Irving replaced Ambassador Maurice Parker, who departed Swaziland on June 12, 2009.
 
Irving earned a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Irving joined the State Department in January 1983. He began his career with an assignment in São Paulo, Brazil, which was followed by postings in South Africa and the Soviet Union. While he was in Moscow in 1987, Irving incurred the wrath of the Soviet government by attending a protest in support of Soviet Jews wishing to emigrate to Israel, and by visiting the predominately Muslim Soviet republic of Kirghizia, where he was accused of speaking to young people about their dissatisfaction with the national government.
 
Since 1995, Irving has worked on African affairs, as well as South America. In addition to two tours in the Bureau of African Affairs, he served as Principal Officer of the U.S. Consulate in Recife, Brazil, from 1995 to 1998, Deputy Chief of Mission of the embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 1998 to 2001, and Labor Counselor to the embassy in Mexico City, Mexico, from 2001 to 2003. Returning to Washington, he served as Political Counselor to the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States from 2003 to 2005, and then as Consul General in Melbourne, Australia, from 2005 to 2008. He then served as a Career Development Officer to senior-level Foreign Service Officers and Construction Engineers from August 2008 to July 2009.   
 
Irving is married to Jeanne Irving and they have two children, Michael and Zöe.
- Matt Bewig
 

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