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Name: Stephens, Kathleen
Current Position: Former Ambassador

Kathleen Stephens was nominated by President George W. Bush on January 23, 2008 and confirmed by the Senate on August 1, 2008,, to be the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. 

After growing up in Arizona, Stephens received her BA with honors in East Asian studies from Prescott College and a master’s degree from Harvard University.  She also studied at the University of Hong Kong (1972-1973). Her foreign languages are Korean and Serbian, with more limited competence in Chinese.
She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Korea from 1975-1977 before joining the Foreign Service in 1978. Earlier overseas assignments included consular and public affairs officer in Guangzhou, China (1980-1982), chief of the internal political unit in Seoul (1984-1987), and principal officer of the U.S. Consulate in Pusan, Korea (1987-1989). Stephens was a political officer assigned to the U.S. mission in Yugoslavia, shuttling between Belgrade and Zagreb, during that country’s violent disintegration in the early ‘90s.
At the State Department, she served as the senior UK country officer (1992-1994), followed by an assignment to the National Security Council as Director for European Affairs (1994-1995).  She served as U.S. Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1995-1998) during the consolidation of ceasefires and negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. From 1998-2001, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon, Portugal, then as director of the Office of Ecology and Terrestrial Conservation (2001-2003).
From 2003-2005, she was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, focusing on addressing Kosovo’s future status, completing the NATO-led mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and accelerating the integration of the western Balkans in Euro-Atlantic institutions.
From 2005-2007, Stephens was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, responsible for a range of bureau-wide issues, and with particular responsibility for the management of U.S. relations with Japan and Korea.
She served as Political Advisor in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the State Department before becoming ambassador to South Korea.

Kathleen Stephens’ Official Biography

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