Mark Pekala has been the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) since March 2020. Before that, he served as Director of the State Department’s Office of Career Development and Assignments and as Staff Director for the Board of Examiners for the Foreign Service. From 2016 to 2018, Ambassador Pekala was Assistant Professor at the National War College, also serving as Vice Commandant and International Affairs Advisor. He was the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Latvia (2012-2014) and, from 2014 to 2016, Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute. He has served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) in Paris, DCM in Tallinn, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Senior Director for Russian Affairs on the National Security Council staff. From 1998 to 1999, Ambassador Pekala was a Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University, teaching graduate seminars on U.S.-Russian Relations and European Security.
Ambassador Pekala also served at the U.S. Mission to NATO and in Warsaw. In the State Department he has served on the Russia desk, in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, and as the Special Assistant to the Ambassador-at-Large for the New Independent States. He was on the staff that opened the U.S. Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1992.
Ambassador Pekala has received nine State Department Superior Honor Awards (six for individual achievements and three for group accomplishments), seven senior performance awards, two Meritorious Honor Awards, the W. Averell Harriman Award, and the Matilda W. Sinclaire Language Award. He received the Joint Meritorious Service Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2018. From the Government of Estonia, he received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, Third Class, and he received Latvia’s highest state decoration, the Order of the Three Stars. He is an alumnus of the University of Michigan. From Columbia University he received the Master of International Affairs degree, the Certificate from the W. Averell Harriman Institute, and the Master of Philosophy degree in Political Science (all with a specialization in Soviet foreign and defense policy).
Ambassador Pekala speaks Estonian, French, Polish, Russian, and a little Latvian.