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Maura Harty -- Department of State
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Consular Affairs

Maura Harty became the Assistant Secretary of Consular Affairs on November 21, 2002. Immediately prior to assuming the position, she served as the Executive Secretary of the Department of State. Ambassador Harty entered the Foreign Service in 1981, after receiving a bachelor’s degree from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Following an initial assignment to the American Embassy in Mexico City, Ambassador Harty returned to Washington and immediately participated in the United States’ rescue mission to Grenada, by leading the search for endangered American students and retirees. She later served as a Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center and was promoted to Senior Watch Officer during that assignment. In 1987-1988, Harty was a Special Assistant to then Secretary of State George P. Shultz. Harty returned overseas in 1988 by volunteering for service at the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, at the time judged to be among the most dangerous assignments available. As chief of the visa section, she pioneered new ways to identify drug traffickers and to establish legal means to impede their travel, as well as the travel of family members who benefited from the proceeds of narcotics trafficking. Ambassador Harty subsequently served as Consul at the American Embassy in Madrid. During that time she was also drafted to assist in the opening of the American Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania. In 1994, Harty served as the Managing Director of the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services, where she created the office of Children’s Issues. The establishment of that office focused attention and resources for the first time on the tragic problem of international parental child abduction. The abduction unit of the Office of Children’s issues has since grown to a staff of seventeen full time employees. In 2001, the office was actively involved in the return of 170 children from foreign countries and also handled over 400 “prevention” cases. Harty was selected as a Deputy Executive Secretary of the Department in 1995 and subsequently served as Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Warren Christopher. Following that assignment, she became the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Paraguay. The security of American citizens was always a critical factor of consideration in all of Ambassador Harty’s initiatives. In order to more quickly reach out to American citizens across the country, Ambassador Harty oversaw the reform of the American Citizen Cascade notification system to ensure that it could reach all Americans in Paraguay, including missionary groups in the remote Chaco region. She was also a strong and effective advocate for democracy and the rule of law as Paraguay confronted a series of constitutional crises. Through straightforward and transparent diplomacy, Harty and her embassy team helped avert several possible coups and prevented an emerging democracy from slipping back toward its more authoritarian past.

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