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Ambassador Biography

Ambassador Ian C. Kelly

Ambassador Ian C. Kelly. Photo: State Dept

Ambassador Ian C. Kelly. Photo: State Dept

Ian C. Kelly, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, was sworn in as the Ambassador to Georgia on September 11, 2015.  Ambassador Kelly just completed a tour as the Department of State’s Diplomat in Residence at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a position he held since 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Kelly served as U.S. Representative, with the rank of Ambassador, to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna, Austria from 2010 to 2013.  From December 2012 – September 2013, he also served concurrently as the U.S. Co-Chair of the OSCE Minsk Group on an interim basis. 

From May 2009 until his appointment as Ambassador, he was the Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State. Before he was named Spokesperson, Ian Kelly was the Director of the Office of Russian Affairs in Washington, D.C., from August 2007 to April 2009.  Prior to his return to Washington, he served as Public Affairs Advisor at the U.S. Mission to NATO (2004-2007), Press Attaché at Embassy Rome (2000-2004) and Press Attaché at the American Embassy in Ankara (1997-2000).  As Director of Democratic Initiatives to the Newly Independent States (NIS) at the Department of State from 1994 to 1996, Kelly coordinated the activities of nearly a dozen federal agencies involved in democracy building in the former Soviet Union, and oversaw an annual budget of around $80 million.  Prior to assuming that assignment, Kelly was a regional Public Affairs Officer for the NIS, a job that took him to all twelve former Soviet republics.  His other assignments include Information Center Director in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1990-92) and Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Leningrad and Moscow, U.S.S.R. (1987-90).

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Kelly taught Russian at Columbia University in New York City, and received his doctorate at Columbia in Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1986.  He also holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and a M.A. from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Ian Kelly speaks Russian and has studied Italian, Serbo-Croatian, and Turkish at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center of the Department of State.  He is married with four children.


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