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SUBJECT:            Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST:                  African Union

CANDIDATE:     Jessica E. Lapenn

Jessica Lapenn, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, has served as the Chargé d’Affaires, U.S. Embassy Pretoria, South Africa since 2016.  Previously, Ms. Lapenn was the Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Human Rights and Democracy in the State Department, 2014 – 2016.  In other overseas leadership positions Ms. Lapenn was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy Kigali, Rwanda from 2012 – 2014, and in Washington, she led the Office for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations from 2010 – 2012.   She also served earlier in her career as the Political Advisor to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2003 – 2006.  Her strong record of leadership, coupled with her considerable experience in Africa, on human rights, and in multilateral diplomacy, make her an excellent candidate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the African Union.

Ms. Lapenn gained valuable experience on Capitol Hill as a Pearson Fellow with the House Foreign Affairs Near East and South Asia Sub-Committee, 2009 – 2010.  Prior to that her assignments included service as Chief of the Political Section of the U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem, Israel; as Special Advisor for Humanitarian and UN issues with the Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq; and as a member of the U.S. Disaster Assistance Response Team for Iraq.  She was the Regional Refugee Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia and, in Washington, she served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs.

Ms. Lapenn earned a B.A. from Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1993 and an M.Phil from Cambridge University, Cambridge, United Kingdom in 1994.   She is the recipient of multiple State Department Awards including two individual Superior Honor Awards.  She has studied French and Arabic.

U.S. Department of State

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