Ambassador W. Stuart Symington was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the United States Senate as Ambassador to Rwanda on August 1, 2008. Ambassador Symington presented his credentials to President Kagame on November 3, 2008.
Ambassador Symington was raised in Missouri, earned a bachelor's degree from Brown University and a Juris Doctorate from Columbia University. He clerked for the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Missouri, then litigated and practiced corporate law in New York, London, Paris, and St. Joseph, Missouri, before becoming a Foreign Service Officer in 1986. After beginning his diplomatic career tracking protests and politics in Honduras, he moved to Spain and worked on economic issues before serving as the Ambassador's aide during Desert Shield and Storm.
In Mexico, Stuart cultivated the political opposition, worked anti-drug issues, helped congressional visitors looking at NAFTA, and reported from Chiapas during the Zapatista revolt. At the State Department, he worked for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs on Latin American and African issues, backing up as his aide for Bosnia. During a yearlong Pearson Fellowship, he served on the staff of Congressman Ike Skelton studying U.S. military joint operations and education. He later traveled to Sudan and North Korea on teams negotiating to free American captives before finishing the year as an aide to Ambassador Bill Richardson, then the U.S. permanent representative to the UN. As a political officer in Ecuador, Stuart forged ties to the political opposition, indigenous leaders, military commanders, and other government and private sector leaders. He joined efforts to end the century-old Peru/Ecuador border conflict, helped negotiate the agreement establishing an anti-drug Forward Operating Location, and, after protests toppled Ecuador's president, he pressed for a return to civilian rule.
From 2001-2003, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Niger, West Africa, dealing with military mutinies, terrorist threats, and civil unrest; he mounted an outreach effort to Muslim leaders, fostered anti-terrorism cooperation, and buttressed Niger's democracy with a key food security program. He then returned to the State Department as the Deputy Director of West African Affairs in the Africa Bureau, working on the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative, humanitarian and development issues, and challenges to security and democratic stability.
From October 2004 to February 2005, he worked for Ambassador Negroponte in Iraq on the election process and political issues, managing pre-election political reporting from around the country and visiting reporting officers in six of our ten regional offices during the run-up to the election. On Election Day, January 30, 2005, based in Baqubah, Stuart observed voting there and in other cities of Diyala province in the Sunni Triangle.
He taught at National Defense University's Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, where he worked with military officer students and staff to see how America's diplomats and warriors can cooperate best to advance U.S. interests abroad.
From 2006-2008, Stuart served as Ambassador to Djibouti. His interagency U.S.G. team advanced regional economic integration, defused humanitarian crises, and promoted democratic development and regional security.