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Name: Jones, Deborah
Current Position: Ambassador

Six months after the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat and Middle East expert Deborah K. Jones to succeed Stevens in Tripoli.


Born circa 1956, Jones grew up in New Mexico, earned a B.A. in History at Brigham Young University in 1978, and an M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College of the National Defense University in 1998, where she wrote a paper entitled, “A National Security Strategy in Plaid: The NSS as a Political Document,” assessing the Clinton Administration’s “National Security Strategy for a New Century,” which was released in May 1997. She has also studied Arabic at the Foreign Service Institute in Roslyn, Virginia, and at the State Department’s Field School in Tunis, Tunisia.


A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Jones joined the U.S. Department of State in 1982. Early career assignments included two years as country director in the Office of Arabian Peninsula and Iran Affairs, service as staff assistant to Assistant Secretary Richard Murphy of the same office, a stint as desk officer for Jordan, and service in the State Department’s Operations Center and on its Board of Examiners. Early overseas postings included assignments in Baghdad, Iraq and Buenos Aires, Argentina.


During the 1990s, Jones bounced between the Middle East and Washington, D.C., serving as consular section chief at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, from 1990 to 1991, and as consular section chief/regional consular officer at the embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 1992 to 1994. Back in Washington, she served as acting public affairs advisor to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs from 1994 to 1995.


After earning her M.S. in 1998, Jones was named deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she served from 1998 to 2001, returning to Washington to serve as the director of the Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs and Iran from 2002 to 2004, and then as principal officer at the Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey from 2005 to 2007. 


Jones served her first ambassadorship from April 2008 to June 2011, as ambassador to Kuwait. She has been a scholar-in-residence at the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, since July 2011.


Jones is married to fellow Foreign Service officer Richard G. Olson, who has been ambassador to Pakistan since September 2012, and with whom she has two daughters. Jones speaks Arabic, Spanish and French.


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Six Months after Benghazi, Obama Names Libya Envoy (by Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor)

Obama Meets Libyan Premier and Names Envoy (by Michael R. Gordon, New York Times)

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