Tara D. Sonenshine was sworn-in as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs on April 5, 2012. She will serve as the Department’s senior public diplomacy official, overseeing the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs, and International Information Programs, and participates in foreign policy development. As Under Secretary, she leads America's public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism. President Obama nominated Ms. Sonenshine on November 8, 2011. The Senate confirmed her appointment on March 29, 2012.
Most recently, Ms. Sonenshine served as Executive Vice President of the United States Institute of Peace. Prior to joining the United States Institute of Peace, she was a strategic communications adviser to many international organizations including USIP, the International Crisis Group, Internews, CARE, The American Academy of Diplomacy and the International Women’s Media Foundation. Ms. Sonenshine served in various capacities at the White House during the Clinton Administration, including Transition Director and Director of Foreign Policy Planning for the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications for the NSC.
Ms. Sonenshine has had a distinguished career in communications and government, with high level experience in broadcast, print, and online media. She has produced news programs for network television and authored numerous articles for national print and online media. She is the recipient of 10 News Emmy Awards and other awards in journalism for broadcast programs on domestic and international issues. Her broadcast career began at ABC News in New York, working for another Tufts alumnus, David Burke, then Vice President of ABC NEWS. Ms. Sonenshine went on to become Editorial Producer of ABC News’ Nightline, where she worked for more than a decade. She was also an off-air reporter at the Pentagon for ABC’s World News Tonight. A former contributing editor for Newsweek, Sonenshine is the author of numerous articles on foreign affairs published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other newspapers.
Ms. Sonenshine graduated from Tufts University in 1981 Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Political Science. She has remained active at Tufts on boards and advisory committees including the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service. She is the proud wife of Gary Friend and mother of two sons, Jordan Friend and Yale Friend.