Kathleen FitzGibbon is the Ambassador to the Republic of Niger. She leads a team of 600 employees advancing U.S. strategic goals in counterterrorism, democracy, development, and humanitarian assistance. Prior to Niger, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria from 2019-2022 where she assisted the Ambassador in leading nearly 1,200 American and Nigerian employees in Abuja and Lagos. She received the State Department’s James A. Baker III Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission and a Presidential Rank Award.
Prior to returning to Nigeria, Kathleen was the Director of the Office of Africa Analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (2016-2019) and the Division Chief for West and Southern Africa (2015-2016). She spent 11 years in various assignments in Africa. In Freetown, Sierra Leone, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission (2012-2015) and served as Charge d’Affaires, a.i. from October 2013 to October 2014. She led international response efforts against Ebola, for which she was named a Hero of U.S. Diplomacy. She was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Libreville responsible for Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe (2009-2012). As the Political/Economic Chief in Kampala, Uganda (2006-2009), Kathleen focused on negotiations with the Lord’s Resistance Army and northern Uganda’s recovery from decades of conflict. As the Political Officer in N’Djamena, Chad (2004-2006), she assisted the Bureau of Refugees, Migration, and Population with managing the influx of 200,000 Darfur refugees and was a State Department negotiator at the Darfur Peace Talks in Abuja. She served as the Political Chief in Lagos, Nigeria as the country returned to civilian rule. Kathleen also was the Senior Reporting Officer in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons covering Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia. She has built expertise on human trafficking, peacekeeping and bilateral military training, refugee affairs, human rights, democratic reforms, commercial advocacy, and health diplomacy.
Before joining the Department of State, Kathleen taught African Politics, International Development, and American Government at Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY and an M.A. in International Relations and Comparative Politics-African Studies from the University of California, Davis. She graduated from Caledonia-Mumford High School. She is an incurable Bills and Arsenal fan and plays soccer, golf, and tennis.
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