This biography is no longer current; at present, no other official U.S. Department of State biographical information is available.
Barbara J. Stephenson was sworn is as the U.S. Ambassador to Panama on July 10, 2008. Ambassador Stephenson, who holds the rank of Minister Counselor in the career Senior Foreign service, joined the Department in 1985. Prior to her confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to Panama, Ambassador Stephenson served as Deputy Senior Advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Coordinator for Iraq at the U.S. Department of State.
Before taking up Iraq duties, Ambassador Stephenson was Director for Planning in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization in the Department of State. Ambassador Stephenson served from 2001-2004 as American Consul General in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she worked on the Northern Ireland Peace Process. From 1998-2001, she served as Consul General and Chief of Mission in Curacao, where she was responsible for the five islands of the Netherlands Antilles as well as Aruba.
Ambassador Stephenson served as special assistant to Under Secretaries for Political Affairs Peter Tarnoff and Tom Pickering, covering European affairs, including the Balkans. Other assignments have included desk officer for the U.K., political-military officer in South Africa, and political officer in The Hague and San Salvador. She began her career in Panama, serving first as an economic officer and then as a political officer.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Stephenson holds a Ph.D. in English literature. She speaks Spanish and Dutch and reads French.