John F. Tefft is a retired United States diplomat. He was a career Foreign Service Officer for more than 45 years, completing his service as the United States Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2014 to 2017. Tefft earlier served as the United States Ambassador to Lithuania from 2000 to 2003, Ambassador to Georgia from 2005 to 2009, and Ambassador to Ukraine from 2009 to 2013. He worked from 2004 to 2005 as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs responsible for U.S. relations with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova.
Tefft originally retired from the Foreign Service in September 2013 and served as Executive Director of the RAND Corporation’s Business Leaders Forum from October 2013 to August 2014 until his recall to duty and confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from September 2014 to September 2017. Tefft is currently a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation.
From 2003-2004 Tefft was the International Affairs Advisor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1996 to 1999, and was Chargé d’Affaires from November 1996 to September 1997. His other Foreign Service assignments include Jerusalem, Budapest, and Rome.
Tefft holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a Master’s Degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Among the awards he has received are the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award in 2017, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award in 1992, the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Year Award for his service in Moscow in 1999 and the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award in 2013. He received Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 2001 and 2005.
Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine and Cathleen, who both live and work in the Washington, D.C. area, and two granddaughters.