Ambassador Donald Yamamoto recently retired from the Foreign Service following an extraordinary 41-year career. He helped lead the Afghan evacuee processing at Dulles Airport in 2021, after his service as the United States Ambassador to Somalia from 2018 until 2021. Yamamoto was previously the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2017 to 2018. He also served as the Senior Vice President for International Programs and Outreach at the National Defense University from 2016–2017; Senior Advisor to the Director General of the Foreign Service on personnel reform from 2015–2016; Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission Somalia office in Mogadishu in 2016; and in senior positions in Kabul, Mazar e-Sharif, and Bagram, Afghanistan from 2014–2015.
He is the former acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (2013), U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia (2006–2009) and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary within the Bureau of African Affairs. He was formerly the U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti (2000–2003), and Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in Eritrea (1997–1998).
Ambassador Yamamoto is a graduate of Columbia College, and earned Masters Degrees at the Columbia University School of International Affairs, and the National War College. He studied Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and French. During his Foreign Service career, he received the Presidential Distinguish Service Award, the Presidential and Secretary of State Distinguish Honor Awards, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Distinguish Honor Award, and the 2006 Robert Frasure Memorial Award for advancing conflict resolution in Africa.