Amb. Kathleen Stephens
Former Ambassador to South Korea. The William J. Perry Fellow at Stanford University in California. She is an Asia Foundation Trustee, and on the boards of The Korea Society and Pacific Century Institute.
Kathleen Stephens was American ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2008 to 2011. She first went to South Korea in the 1970s as a Peace Corps volunteer and returned in the 1980s as a diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul covering South Korea's tumultuous political scene. Stephens was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 2005 to 2007, involved in the Six-Party Talks efforts with North Korea.
Ambassador Stephens was the first Korean-speaker and first woman to hold the top U.S. job in Seoul. Her Korean-language blog was published in book form in 2010. She is the recipient of numerous awards in Korea, including the Hangul Goodwill Ambassador, Sejong Cultural Prize, Kwanghwa Diplomatic Order of Merit, and YWCA Woman Leader Special Prize. She was named the State Department's Linguist of the Year in 2010.
Stephens' other diplomatic assignments over three decades included postings in India, China, and fracturing Yugoslavia. She was U.S. Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland from 1995 to 1998 during the consolidation of ceasefires and the negotiations leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. In Washington, she was Director for European Affairs during the Clinton Administration, negotiator on post-conflict issues on the Balkans as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (2003-2005), and acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (2012). She led the U.S. diplomatic mission to India as interim ambassador (Charge) in working with the newly-elected Indian government led by Prime Minister Modi.
Ambassador Stephens is currently the William J. Perry Fellow at Stanford University in California. She is an Asia Foundation Trustee, and on the boards of The Korea Society and Pacific Century Institute.