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Name: Symington, W. Stuart
Current Position: Former Ambassador

Missouri native, W. Stuart Symington has served as the United States Ambassador to Rwanda since August 1, 2008.

Symington comes from a distinguished political family. His grandfather, also known as W. Stuart Symington, was the first US Secretary of the Air Force from 1947 to 1950, and later served as the US Senator from Missouri from 1953 to 1976. His uncle, James W. Symington, served in the House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 for Missouri’s Second Congressional District. His father, Stuart Symington Jr., is a civic leader and lawyer in St. Louis. His mother, Dr. Janey Belle Symington, is a scientist. Fife Symington, his great uncle, became the Governor of Arizona in 1991 and ended his term in 1997.
Symington earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University. He clerked for the chief judge of the Eastern District of Missouri, then litigated and practiced corporate law in New York, London, Paris, and St. Joseph, MO, before becoming a Foreign Service Officer in 1986.
After beginning his diplomatic career tracking protests and politics in Honduras, he moved to Spain and worked on economic issues before serving as the ambassador’s aide during Desert Shield and Storm. In Mexico, Symington cultivated the political opposition, worked on anti-drug issues, helped congressional visitors looking at NAFTA, and reported from Chiapas during the Zapatista revolt.
At the State Department, Symington worked for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs on Latin American and African issues, and served as his aide for Bosnia. During a yearlong Pearson Fellowship, he served on the staff of Congressman Ike Skelton, studying US military joint operations and education.
He later traveled to Sudan and North Korea on teams negotiating the freeing of American captives before finishing the year as an aide to Ambassador Bill Richardson, who was at the time the U.S. permanent representative to the UN. As a political officer in Ecuador, Symington joined efforts to end the century-old Peru/Ecuador border conflict, and helped negotiate the agreement establishing an anti-drug Forward Operating Location.
From 2001-2003, Symington served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Niger, dealing with military mutinies, terrorist threats, and civil unrest. He then returned to the State Department as the Deputy Director of West African Affairs in the Africa Bureau.
From October 2004 to February 2005, he worked for Ambassador Negroponte in Iraq on the election process and political issues, and has subsequently taught at National Defense University’s Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk.
From 2006 to 2008, Symington served as ambassador to Djibouti. 
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