Karen R. Chandler is the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM). She is responsible for programs that address the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance and strengthen U.S. national security by preventing illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). She guides and directs peacekeeping policy and programs to augment the global capacity to respond to peacekeeping operations worldwide, and she provides overall direction for global programs to professionalize foreign security partners. She concurrently serves as the Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) in the PM Bureau, a position she has held since September 2021.
Karen has nearly two decades of experience as a civil servant at the State Department and is a career member of the Senior Executive Service. Previously, she served as the director of the interagency MANPADS Task Force in PM, and from 2015-2019 she was the PM Chief of Staff, where she was responsible for strategy coordination and operational management of the bureau. Other assignments at State include two tours on Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, the Office of the Special Representative to Muslim Communities, and the Counterterrorism bureau. Karen also served as the Staff Director for the Transportation Security Administration’s Office of Global Strategies from 2013-2015. From 2008-2009, Karen served on the White House’s National Security Council staff as a Director for Combating Terrorism. Karen joined the Department of State as a Presidential Management Fellow. She earned her M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and has a B.A. in Human Biology from the University of Kansas, her native state.