U.S. Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea: Who Is Julie Furuta-Toy?

Sunday, October 25, 2015
Julie Furuta-Toy

President Barack Obama on June 18, 2015, announced his intention to nominate Julie Furuta-Toy, a career member of the Foreign Service, to be the next ambassador to Equatorial Guinea. If she’s confirmed, it will be the first such post for her.


Furuta-Toy is from Wyoming. As was true with many Japanese-Americans, Furuta-Toy’s father’s family was sent to an internment camp during World War II and he later served in the U.S. Army in Japan at the end of the war. Furuta-Toy attended UC Riverside, earning a BA in comparative literature in 1981 and earned an MA in the same subject from Indiana University in 1984. Ten years later, she earned a master’s degree from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Furuta-Toy joined the Foreign Service in 1986.


Furuta-Toy’s early assignments included Haiti, India, Mexico, and the Philippines. In 1996, she was named program officer in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. She moved over to the Bureau of Personnel in 1998 as a career development officer.


In 2001, Furura-Toy was sent to Moscow as a consul and immigrant visa unit chief. When she returned to Washington in 2004, she continued in that specialty as director of the Office of Public and Diplomatic Liaison and the Visa Office. Much of her job there involved explaining to those wanting to visit the U.S. on non-immigrant visas, such as those coming for educational and cultural events, why they were denied entry to the United States.


Furuta-Toy was made director of the Office of Children’s Issues in 2007. Here she dealt often with cases of child abduction, particularly those by a non-custodial spouse from another country.


Furuta-Toy was sent to Africa in 2009 as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Accra, Ghana. In 2012, she assumed a similar role in Oslo, Norway. Furuta-Toy ended up heading the mission there for almost two years because of the Obama administration’s inept handling of the nomination of George Tsunis, a bundler for Obama’s election campaigns, to be the ambassador to Norway. Tsunis eventually withdrew from consideration after a botched performance at his confirmation hearing.


Furuta-Toy is married to Steven Toy, another State Department employee. They have two children. Her languages are Spanish and Russian.

-Steve Straehley


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