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Jo Ellen

Jo Ellen Powell is a career member of the United States Foreign Service who served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Resources (2016-2017), U.S. Ambassador to Mauritania (2010-2013), and Consul General in Frankfurt, Germany (2006-2009). She grew up in a Foreign Service family, living in Panama, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, India, Iran, and Laos. Her father, John Millard Powell, was a diplomatic courier and later administrative officer.

Ms. Powell earned her B.A. from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and joined the State Department in 1976 as a civil servant. She joined the Foreign Service in January 1980 and was posted to Amman, Jordan. Following an assignment to the State Department Operations Center, she returned to the Middle East, serving as Economic-Commercial Officer at Embassy Beirut, 1983-84. Subsequent assignments included Embassy Rome, the European Bureau Executive Office, and Embassy Paris. In 1997, Ms. Powell served as Deputy Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat, supporting Secretaries of State Christopher and Albright. From 1998-2001, Ms. Powell was Management Counselor at Embassy Canberra, Australia. She returned to the Department in 2001, serving as director of the Office of Employee Relations in HR, then as Executive Director of the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (2004-2006). Ms. Powell served as Consul General in Frankfurt, Germany from 2006 to 2009. She was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 2010, serving there until December 2013. Ms. Powell served as a senior adviser to the Director General from 2014 to August 2016, when she was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Resources, a position she held until June 2017. Ms. Powell is married to retired FSO Stephen Engelken. They have one son.

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