Jessye Lapenn is the inaugural Senior Coordinator for Atlantic Cooperation. Starting in February 2023, she leads implementation of the recently established Atlantic Cooperation Initiative. The initiative aims to increase cooperation among Atlantic coastal countries on common approaches to maritime law enforcement and governance, sustainable ocean-based economies, and climate and environmental challenges.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, she was previously the U.S. Ambassador to the African Union and the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. She also served as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission in South Africa from 2016-2019 and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali from 2012-2014.
A committed multilateralist, Ambassador Lapenn directed the Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations and advised the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations in New York on Security Council matters.
Ambassador Lapenn’s other domestic U.S. assignments have included Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, staff to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, desk officer for Libya and Tunisia, and State Department fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives. Additional overseas tours have included Jeddah, Riyadh, Paris, Tbilisi, Baghdad, and Jerusalem.
Ambassador Lapenn was born and raised in New York City. She received a BA with Honors in Women’s Studies from Harvard College and an M.Phil in International Development from Cambridge University. Her thirteen-year-old son has been along for all of her most recent adventures.