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Name: Mull, Stephen
Current Position: Ambassador

Getting expelled from the country is usually a disastrous way for a young foreign service officer to end only his second foreign posting, and would seem to foreclose a return assignment—unless your name is Stephen Mull. Nominated by President Obama on July 10 to be the next ambassador to Poland, Mull was expelled by the communist government there in 1986. Mull appeared at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on September 12.


Born April 30, 1958, in Reading, Pennsylvania, to mother Faith M. Spracklin, Stephen Mull recalled for a hometown reporter that he wanted a diplomatic career as early as elementary school. Mull graduated from Reading High School in 1976 and earned a BS in International Politics at Georgetown University in 1980.


Mull joined the Foreign Service in March 1982, and holds the rank of Career Minister. His first overseas assignment was to serve as a consular officer in the Bahamas from 1982 to 1984, where he met and married Cheri Stephan, herself the daughter of career diplomats. His second overseas posting was as second secretary in Poland from 1984 to 1986, during the period of martial law and the repression of the Solidarity labor union movement, where he did such a good job of reporting on Solidarity activities that the Polish government accused him of espionage and ordered him to leave the country three weeks before his term was up; he stayed and left on schedule.


From Poland Mull was sent to do a similar job in apartheid South Africa, where he served as political officer in the Black Politics Unit at the embassy in Pretoria, from 1986 to 1990. Back in the States, Mull was deputy director of the State Department Operations Center from 1991 to 1993. He then returned to Poland to find the dissidents he had been reporting on were now part of the government; he served as political counselor at the embassy in Warsaw from 1993 to 1997.


Back in Washington, Mull was director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 1997 to 1998 and deputy executive secretary of state from 1998 to 2000. For his first posting to Asia, Mull was deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2000 to 2003.


Mull served his first ambassadorship as ambassador to Lithuania from 2003 to 2006. He then took a series of headquarters assignments, starting with service as acting assistant secretary of state for Political-Military Affairs from January 2007 through August 2008, as senior advisor to Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns from August 2008 to June 2010, and as executive secretary of the State Department from June 2010 to August 2012. In addition, at the beginning of the Obama administration, he exercised the authority of the Office of the Under Secretary for International Security Affairs and Arms Control pending the arrival of the permanent under secretary.


Mull is a member of the Policy Council of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, a private non-profit dedicated to a strong Foreign Service. Mull and wife Cheri Stephan have one child, Ryan,.

-Matt Bewig


Official Biography

Bush Taps Native of City for Post (by Don Spatz, Reading Eagle)

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (2012, pdf)

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