An active-duty member of the American Foreign Service for more than 30 years, Barbara Stephenson was elected President of the American Foreign Service Association in 2015.
Previously, Stephenson served as dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute where she launched and co-chaired the department-wide Culture of Leadership Initiative. In 2008, she was appointed ambassador to Panama and later became the first female Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in London.
As Deputy Senior Adviser to the Secretary and Deputy Coordinator for Iraq (2006-2008), she won the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award for developing and implementing the “civilian surge” that helped improve governance and reduce violence in Iraq’s provinces. Before taking up Iraq duties, Stephenson served as Director for Planning in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization.
From 2001-2004, as the American Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, she worked on the Northern Ireland Peace Process. From 1998-2001, she served as Consul General and Chief of Mission in Curaçao. Earlier in her career, Stephenson served as special assistant to Under Secretaries for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff and Tom Pickering, covering European affairs, including the war-torn Balkans. Other assignments have included position in the UK, South Africa, The Hague, San Salvador, and Panama. She is a member of the Advisory Boards for Global Ties, World Affairs Council DC, and the British-American Project.
Stephenson holds a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in English literature from the University of Florida.