Ambassador Kelly Keiderling served as U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay from 2016-2019. She is currently the Deputy Commandant/International Affairs Advisor and a faculty member at the National War College. Before Uruguay, she was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the State Department's Educational and Cultural Affairs bureau, managing a $600 million budget of educational, professional, and cultural exchanges. From 2011-2013, she was deputy chief of mission (DCM) and Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, as Venezuela was rapidly becoming a dictatorship. When then-Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro declared her persona non grata for engaging with the Venezuelan people, she departed Venezuela.
Ambassador Keiderling started her Foreign Service career in Cold War dictatorships, assigned to Zambia (1989) and then Ethiopia (1990-1992) and learning diplomatic work in unfree societies. From 1992-1995, she returned to the Latin America in which she was raised, to the Dominican Republic as cultural affairs officer. Deciding to explore the region of her academic area of interest, the Soviet Union, she went to Kyrgyzstan as public affairs officer, engaging on issues of political and economic reform, academia, media, and civil society. She returned to Africa for her next assignment as public affairs officer, to Gaborone, Botswana, where she focused on educational and professional exchanges, addressing HIV/AIDS, and SADC-regional engagement. From 2000-2003, she served at State Department headquarters, as Senior Panama Desk Officer, acting Central American Affairs deputy director, and Public Diplomacy desk officer for Cuba and the Caribbean. She served as public affairs officer again from 2003-2005 in Havana, Cuba, spreading concepts of free press, independent academia, democratic governance, market economics, and human rights in the eye of Fidel Castro’s storming against the U.S. After graduate studies at the National War College, she served as DCM at the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau, Moldova, from 2006-2008, observing the evolution of a post-Soviet nation that was defining its future in a Europe whole, free and at peace. She returned to the State Department as chief of staff in the Office of Iraq Affairs and as the language-policy advisor in the Human Resources bureau, before heading off to her assignment as DCM in Venezuela in 2011.
She is married to another Foreign Service Officer and has two kids. She grew up in Latin America and Portugal with her U.S. Foreign Service family.