2020 Keynote Speaker
Barbara J. Stephenson
Vice Provost for Global Affairs, Chief Global Officer at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Barbara Jean Stephenson (born 1958) is an American diplomat and has served as President of the American Foreign Service Association since 2015. Formerly the Dean of the Leadership and Management School of the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Virginia, she also served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in London, and acted as Chargé d'Affaires following the departure of Ambassador Louis Susman. She is the former United States Ambassador to the Republic of Panama. She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and was appointed by President Barack Obama in the Summer of 2010.
Stephenson is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, and has previously served as Deputy Coordinator for Iraq at the U.S. Department of State. She received her Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. in English all from the University of Florida.
In August 2009, Stephenson wrote in a diplomatic cable that Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli had asked her for wiretaps on his political opponents in which she noted his "bullying style" and "autocratic tendencies". A copy of the cable was released in December 2010 by WikiLeaks. Martinelli's administration stated after the leak that "help in tapping the telephones of politicians was never requested" and that Stephenson was "mistaken" in her interpretation. Ambassador Stephenson's assessment was vindicated when the Panamanian government ruled to press corruption charges against Martinelli and to prosecute two former Secretaries of Panama's National Security Council on illegal wiretapping charges.
Ms. Stephenson is a Florida native.