Thomas Countryman was chosen in October 2017 to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arms Control Association. The ACA is a nonpartisan NGO, committed to analysis of key national security issues and to advising the executive branch, Congress and the public on choices that promote global security and reduce the risk that weapons of mass destruction will be used.
He retired from the Senior Foreign Service in January 2017 after 35 years of service. At that time, he served simultaneously as acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, and as Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation, a position he held since September 2011. The ISN Bureau leads the US effort to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their related materials, and their delivery systems.
Previously he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs (2009-10), and as Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs (2010-11), with responsibility for the Balkans region.
His first assignments were at the US Embassy in Belgrade (1983-85), and in Washington as the desk officer for Yugoslavia (1986) and for Bulgaria/Albania (1987-88). After an assignment to Cairo, he was responsible for advising Ambassador Albright on Middle East affairs at the US Mission to the United Nations (1994-97), and served as liaison with the UN Special Commission investigating Iraq’s weapons programs. Mr. Countryman served as Director for Near East affairs on the National Security Council staff (1997-98), with responsibility for the region from Morocco to Syria, and was the White House representative on Ambassador Dennis Ross’ peace process team. He attended the Senior Seminar course in 1998-1999.
He was Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs (1999-2001), and Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Rome (2001-05). He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Athens (2005-08), including five months as Charge d’Affaires in 2007. In 2008-2009, he was Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commandant of the US Marine Corps, General James Conway.
He received Superior Honor Awards for his work in EUR, Rome, Athens, and New York. In 2007, he received the Presidential Meritorious Service award.
Mr. Countryman graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (summa cum laude) with a degree in economics and political science, and studied at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. His foreign languages are Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, German, Italian and Greek.
He is a native of Tacoma, Washington. He and his wife Dubravka have two brilliant sons.