May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Jewish American Heritage Month, celebrating the heritage, culture, and contributions of AAPI and Jewish Americans. This month, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs will highlight AAPI and Jewish Americans serving in our bureau and advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security efforts in the United States and across Europe. This effort is a part of a broader campaign celebrating diversity and inclusion as core American values.
Throughout 2021, EUR will highlight the diversity of Americans serving in the bureau. Please check back here throughout the month as we spotlight our outstanding colleagues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
Bic Leu is a career Foreign Service Officer, who currently serves as the Financial Management and Human Resources Officer in Tirana. Previous tours include the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs in Washington, DC, as well as Kabul, Rio de Janeiro, and Rangoon. Before joining the State Department, she worked at The Museum of Modern Art in New York and researched Nollywood films on a Fulbright in Lagos.
Salman Khalil serves as a Political Officer and the Human Rights Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany. Prior to his current assignment, he served as an Exchange Diplomat at the German Federal Foreign Office. He was part of the team working for the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. In his prior assignment as an International Relations Officer in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Salman was responsible for the management and coordination of the U.S.-Germany bilateral relationship and policy development on economic and political issues. Before joining the Germany Desk in 2014, Mr. Khalil was an International Relations Officer in the Office of Pakistan Affairs as part of the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He worked on counterterrorism, terror finance issues, hostage affairs, and consular affairs. Salman helped found Mission Germany’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council in 2020. Born in Bonn, Germany, later immigrating to the Washington, DC area, he studied Integrated Studies at Champlain College and spent ten years in the IT sector. Salman joined the Foreign Service in 2008, serving in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Jordan. He speaks German, Pashto, Urdu, and Arabic.
Victoria Taylor arrived at U.S. Embassy Zagreb in September 2018 and has served as Chargé d’Affaires since January 2021. Ms. Taylor joined the Department of State in 2003 and is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. Previous assignments include Deputy Director for Western Europe; Director for Balkans, Caucasus, and the Black Sea Affairs at the National Security Council; Political and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia; and International Affairs Fellow in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. Ms. Taylor has also served at U.S. Embassies in Tunisia and Pakistan and at the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Pakistan. In Washington, she managed the nonproliferation and Iranian foreign policy portfolio in the Office of Iranian Affairs and worked as the Turkey Desk and Southern European Economic Affairs Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs. Ms. Taylor, who hails from Springfield, Missouri, holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She grew up in a multicultural household as the child of a Chinese immigrant from Taiwan and a native Missourian, spurring a lifelong interest in other languages and cultures. She speaks French, Mandarin, Russian, and Urdu.
Tao Zeng was sworn in as a Foreign Service Officer in 2016. He previously served in the Political Section at the U.S. Embassy in Paris where he covered issues relating to Human Rights, Religious Freedom, and Trafficking in Persons. His first tour in the Foreign Service was at the U.S. Consulate General in Hermosillo, Mexico, where he worked in the Consular Section. Prior to his diplomatic career, Tao worked for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a bank examiner specializing in large financial institutions. He and his wife met as Peace Corps Volunteers serving in Turkmenistan. His wife is also a Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Tao was born in Hebei province in China and holds a B.A. in Economics, Statistics, and Philosophy from Columbia University.
Evan Gong is a Spring 2021 intern at the Political section at the US Embassy Berlin. He is a senior at UC Berkeley studying Political Economy and German. He is particularly interested in history, politics, and economics and enjoys learning new languages. After graduating high school, Evan participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program. He spent a year in Freiburg with a host family, attended a local gymnasium, and completed an internship at a logistics company.
Jason Ullner joined the Foreign Service in 2005. He has served overseas in Tel Aviv, Baghdad, Jerusalem, and London, along with two tours in Washington as NEA Staff Assistant and Algeria desk officer. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Jason was a corporate attorney in New York City. He graduated from Northwestern University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Art History, and has a JD/LLM in International Law from Duke University School of Law. Jason is fluent in Hebrew and conversational in Palestinian-dialect Arabic. He is an avid skier, distance runner (having completed 16 marathons), and a massive Chelsea fan.
Craig D. Goldstein first walked through the doors of the Harry S Truman building 19-years ago in April 2002. A native New Yorker, Craig received an invitation to join the 65th Basic Special Agent Class of Diplomatic Security (DS) one month after the events of 9/11. Listening to Secretary of State Colin Powell inaugurate his foreign service class into the Department, Craig made a commitment to the United States to ensure that the integrity of diplomacy prevailed, and he dedicated himself to building a more resilient State Department, regardless of adversity. Since that day, Craig has had the privilege to serve in some of our most interesting geopolitical posts while learning about foreign cultures and what makes the world go round. These tours include Assistant Regional Security Officer (ARSO) Moscow, ARSO Jerusalem and, RSO Sydney. He arrived in his current assignment as RSO Yerevan, Armenia shortly before the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Supervisory Special Agent Goldstein fondly recalls one of his most rewarding tours being a three-year assignment as Task Force Officer to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City, the flagship office for Counterterrorism in the United States, where he worked closely with foreign law enforcement officers and U.S. based agencies to investigate and mitigate threats to the United States. Fun Fact: Craig has a core cleared travel acoustic guitar in his office.
Gillian Apfel is the Country Fraud Prevention Coordinator for Mission Italy, working from Embassy Rome. Her first assignment was a consular tour in Kingston, followed by a rotation as Human Rights Officer and Immigrant Visa Chief in Bangkok. Gillian has also served as the Refugee Coordinator for Admissions in Baghdad and the American Citizens Services Chief in Vancouver. Domestically she has worked in Crisis Management Training at FSI and Crisis Management Support in the Operations Center, as well as the CA LNA Coordinator in HR/CDA. She has served as an EEO Counselor since 2009. Gillian is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2006, she practiced law in Seattle as a corporate litigator and worked for the International Rescue Committee, assisting refugees, asylees, and victims of human trafficking. She loves her Foreign Service lifestyle even more now that she shares it with her tandem spouse, stepdaughters, and son. A native New Yorker, Gillian’s Judaism and commitment to tikkun olam (the fixing of the world) and social justice is central to her identity. She looks forward to further connecting the Foreign Service and the Jewish American community during her upcoming year as a Una Chapman Cox Foundation Sabbatical Fellow.