Ambassador to Timor-Leste: Who Is Judith Fergin?

Saturday, October 23, 2010
The impoverished nation of Timor-Leste, which only recently emerged from years of colonial rule, has a new U.S. ambassador with significant experience in the Australasian region. President Barack Obama nominated Judith R. Fergin to the post June 15, 2010. Her confirmation hearing was held on July 21, she was confirmed by the Senate August 5, and she took charge of her post September 9.
Born and raised in Falmouth, Maine, Fergin earned a B.A. in Government from Smith College in 1973, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Virginia, and a second Master’s degree in National Resource Management from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces of the National Defense University. 
Fergin is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. She served as Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1997 to 2001. From 2002 to 2003, she participated in a diplomatic exchange program at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and then moved to Canberra, where she served as Economic Counselor at the embassy for 2003 and 2004, when the bilateral Free Trade Agreement negotiations between the U.S. and Australia were finalized. She was Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy in Singapore from 2004 to 2007.  Returning to Australia in July 2007, she served as Consul General in Sydney to June 2010.  Other overseas posts include Moscow, Russia; Monrovia, Liberia; Pretoria, South Africa; and Munich, Germany
Fergin has seen at least her share of danger and drama over the years. In Jakarta, military upheaval forced Fergin’s husband and children to leave the country for a time, while Fergin remained at the embassy. In Russia, a rocket destroyed a photocopier in an office one floor beneath Fergin’s.
Fergin is married to fellow Foreign Service Officer Gregory C. Fergin, a retired senior Foreign Service officer. They have two children, William and Amalia. Over the years, the Fergins have contributed $4,550 to the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) PAC and Legislative Action Fund. The AFSA is the professional association certified to represent members of the United States Foreign Service, and the PAC and LAF are its political arms. 
- Matt Bewig
Judith Fergin US-Diplomat Relays Life Story (by Jackie Myers, Southern Highland News)


John 8 years ago
Timor-Leste did not emerge "from years of bloody civil war." In 1999, the East Timorese people voted for independence, a right to self-determination denied them in 1975 when Indonesia invaded the Portuguese colony. Indonesia's invasion and occupation were backed by the U.S. and resulted in in up to 200,000 deaths. After the pro-independence vote, Indonesia's security forces killed at least 1450 people, destroyed most of its infrastructure and forced two-thirds of its population from their homes. Timor became independent in 2002 after several years of direct UN rule. The East Timor and Indonesia Action Network ( has been supporting the people in their quest for justice and accountability.

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