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Name: Heffern, John
Current Position: Previous Ambassador

John Heffern, a career diplomat who has spent much of his career working in East Asia, was nominated in May 2011 to serve as ambassador to Armenia. However, his nomination has been held up by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) as a protest against President Barack Obama’s refusal to characterize the Turkish killing of Armenians during World War I as a “genocide.” At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Heffern sidestepped the issue, stating only that “the characterization of those events… is a policy decision that is made by the president of the United States.”

Heffern’s father served briefly in the Foreign Service. He met his wife in India. Heffern’s mother is a naturalized citizen.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Heffern graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in international relations in 1976.
He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 after serving as office director and research assistant for Sen. John Danforth (R-Missouri). His early postings included China, Taiwan and Cote d’Ivoire.
Heffern was later assigned to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and then took postings in Washington, DC, related to Southeast Asia.
From 1994 to 1996, he worked on the House International Relations Committee as a Pearson Fellow for Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska).
Heffern served as deputy political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Tokyo, Japan, and as political counselor at the U.S. Mission to NATO.
After postings in the Human Resources Bureau in Washington, as executive assistant to under secretary for political affairs, and as deputy chief of mission at U.S. embassy Jakarta, Indonesia, he reported back to the U.S. Mission to NATO as the deputy permanent representative in 2009.
Heffern and his wife of 32 years, Libby Dowling Heffern, have five children.
Official Biography (State Department) (pdf)
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