November 5, 2011
President Barack Obama nominated veteran diplomat Mary Beth Leonard (CNW 2004) to become the U.S. Ambassador to Mali on June 21, 2011, and she was confirmed by the Senate on October 18. Leonard had previously served as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Mali.
Leonard’s father, Earl Leonard, was a high school math teacher and vice principal in Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduating from Worcester’s Doherty Memorial High School, she earned a BA from Boston University with a major in economics and a minor in French; an MA in 1988 from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, with an emphasis on African studies; and an MA in security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 2004.
Leonard’s first job after college was as a research analyst for the Defense Department. She transferred to the Foreign Service in 1988. Her overseas assignments have included: consular and economic officer in Cameroon, where she evaluated visa applications to the United States; consular officer in Namibia; economic and commercial officer in Togo; and deputy principal officer in Cape Town, South Africa.
In Washington, she has served in the State Department Operations Center and twice as a desk officer in the Office of Southern African Affairs and Central African Affairs.
Leonard also has been deputy chief of mission in Suriname and in Mali.
Most recently, she served as director of the Office of West African Affairs at the State Department.