Jonita Whitaker assumed the position of POLAD Director in June 2008 following her graduation from senior training at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Her previous assignments overseas include Khartoum, Sudan, as management counselor; Maputo, Mozambique, as management officer; Bamako, Mali, as financial management officer; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as human resources manager. Ms. Whitaker’s domestic assignments include serving as desk officer in the Sudan Program Groups, as program management officer for South Asia in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and as foreign policy advisor as a Pearson Fellow in the office of Congressman Donald Payne (D–NJ).
Prior to joining the Department of State, Ms. Whitaker served with the city of Sacramento as a personnel analyst. Her educational background includes a B.S. degree in psychology magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines, a Master of Public Administration degree from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master of National Security Resource Strategy from the National Defense University.
Ms. Whitaker speaks Portuguese, Visayan, Spanish, and Tagalog. During her career she has earned numerous honor and service awards, including the 2006 ICASS Leadership Award.
Ms. Whitaker is a current student of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.