Ms. Lerner serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, she oversees the Exchange Visitor (J-1 visa) Program, which annually brings some 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States to study, build skills, and teach. Ms. Lerner, a lawyer by training and a member of the California bar, joined the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as counsel in March, 2009. In this position, she handled human rights, refugees, migration, trafficking in persons, gender equity, and public diplomacy for Chairman John Kerry.
Prior to the Committee, she worked for the Department of State for nearly seven years. During that time, she was a senior reporting officer for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons; Senior Congressional Liaison for the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, and was posted to U.S. Embassy Cairo as Deputy Press Attache. She also worked at U.S. Embassy Baghdad and Regional Office Kirkuk in 2004 and 2005.
Prior to the Department of State, she was a Legal and Human Rights Advisor for OSCE Missions in Croatia and Kosovo, where she handled minority and property issues as well as human trafficking and women’s legal rights. She was a long-term election supervisor in Bosnia in 1997 and Croatia in 1999 for the OSCE. Domestically, she spent a year as the staff attorney for the ACLU of Mississippi.