Jessye Lapenn assumed the role of Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission in South Africa on December 16, 2016. She had been Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Pretoria since July, 2016. Prior to this, she served as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights at the Department of State in Washington, DC. She was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali from 2012-2014.
Ms. Lapenn entered the U.S. Foreign Service in October, 1994. Her overseas tours have included Jeddah, Riyadh, Paris, Tbilisi, Baghdad and Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, she was the Chief of the Political Section at the U.S. Consulate General, and at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, she was responsible for regional refugee assistance and policy in the South Caucasus and Central Asia.
She has completed several domestic U.S. assignments as well, including roles as staff for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, desk officer for Libya and Tunisia, and director of the Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations. Ms. Lapenn has served as an advisor on Security Council matters for the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations in New York and as a State Department fellow at the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ms. Lapenn was born and raised in New York City. She received a BA in Women’s Studies from Harvard College and an M.Phil in International Development from Cambridge University. She is the proud mother of a nine year old son.