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Jessye Lapenn

U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to South Africa


Jessye Lapenn assumed her role as Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at U.S. Embassy Pretoria in December 16, 2016. Prior to arriving in Pretoria as the Deputy Chief of Mission in July 2016, Jessye 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, D.C. 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 Caucuses and Central Asia. 

At the Department of State in Washington, D.C., Ms. Lapenn served on the staff of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, as the desk officer for Libya and Tunisia and as the director of the Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the Bureau of International Organizations. In the latter role, she led U.S. engagement at the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Lapenn was an advisor on Security Council matters for the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations in New York and 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 has an eight-year old son Jasper.

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