In April 2021, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. nominated Ambassador Mary Catherine Phee to serve as the U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and chair of the Board of the Foreign Service. Her confirmation is currently pending.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, Ambassador Phee most recently served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan. She was sworn into office on July 15, 2015.
Prior to that, she was Chief of Staff to the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
Ambassador Phee completed a three-year assignment as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 2014.
Ambassador Phee was Director for Iraq at the National Security Council from 2009 to 2011, where she was responsible for coordinating the U.S. transition from military to civilian operations culminating in the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops in December 2011.
From 2005 to 2008 she served as Counselor for Political Affairs and Deputy Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, where she advanced U.S. policies on issues such as Afghanistan, the Arab-Israeli peace process, Burma, Iraq, Lebanon, and sanctions.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus invited her to join the Joint Strategic Assessment Team established in 2007 to revise the U.S. campaign plan in Iraq, and she was the Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, Iraq, from 2003 to 2004.
Ambassador Phee has also served at U.S. Embassies in Rome, Italy; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo, Egypt; and Amman, Jordon. Assignments in Washington, DC include special assistant to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, desk officer for UN Security Council Affairs, and desk officer for Iran.
During her career, Ambassador Phee has received many awards, including the Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission, 2014; the Order of the British Empire, 2006; the Secretary of Defense’s Meritorious Civilian Service Award, 2004; and numerous Department of State Superior and Meritorious Awards.
Before joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Phee was a deputy press secretary to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. As a graduate of Indiana University, she earned a B.A. and an M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.