Kelly Keiderling, a career member of the State Department, was confirmed on May 17, 2016, to be the United States’ Ambassador to Uruguay. It’s her first such appointment.
Keiderling was, in a sense, born into the Foreign Service. Her father was a U.S. diplomat who met Keiderling’s mother while on assignment in Bolivia. Keiderling was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in Latin America and Portugal. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.S. and later earned an M.S. at the National War College.
Keiderling formerly joined the Foreign Service in 1988. Her early assignments included her native Dominican Republic, Ethiopia and Zambia. She was named public affairs officer in the embassy in Kyrgyzstan in 1996 and followed that two years later with a similar assignment in Botswana.
In 2000 she returned to Washington, where she served in three consecutive posts: Senior Panama Desk Officer, acting Deputy Director in the office of Central American Affairs, and the Public Diplomacy Officer for Cuba and the Caribbean. In 2003, Keiderling was assigned to Havana as the public affairs officer in the U.S. Interests Section there. She was made Deputy Chief of Mission in Chisinau, Moldova, in 2006.
Keiderling was brought back to the United States in 2009, first to serve as Chief of Staff in the Office of Iraq Affairs, and the following year as Strategic Language Issues Coordinator in the Bureau for Human Resources.
Her next overseas posting ended with a controversy. She served as Deputy Chief of Mission and charge d’affaires in Caracas, Venezuela, beginning in 2011. Her tenure ended in 2013, when she and two other diplomats were kicked out of the country by President Nicolas Maduro, who accused the three of attempting sabotage. “Yankee go home. Enough abuses already,” Maduro said.
Keiderling was later accused by Cuban Raul Capote and by the official Cuban press of being an agent of the Central Intelligence Agency. Capote claimed that Keiderling was one of his handlers in Havana.
After her return to the United States, Keiderling was named Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the State Department.
Keiderling’s husband, David Franz, is also a Foreign Service officer. They have two children, Katherine and Alex. Keiderling speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French and Russian, as well as some Italian and Romanian.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."