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Virtual: Ambassador John Tefft, ‘Russia and the Biden Administration’

April 20, 2021 at 12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Diplomatic and Security Challenges and the Near Abroad

UNC-Chapel Hill will host Ambassador John Tefft for the expert talk, “Russia and the Biden Administration,” at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.  Ambassador Tefft, former U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine, will focus on Russia’s near abroad policy and the implications of Russia’s increased military and diplomatic power on the international stage.

Ambassador Deborah McCarthy, senior fellow at Harvard University and member of the board of directors at the American Academy of Diplomacy, and Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, vice provost for global affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, will provide introductory remarks.

After his expert talk, Ambassador Tefft will be joined by Bob Jenkins, teaching associate professor within the Department of Political Science at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Christiane Lemke, professor of political science and director of International Relations and European Studies in the Institute of Political Science at Leibniz University Hannover and visiting scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for European Studies, for a panel discussion on how the new Biden Administration should engage with Russia on key issues including NATO, Ukraine, Syria, sanctions and internal Russian dissent and opposition.

The lecture is part of a partnership between UNC-Chapel Hill and the American Academy of Diplomacy (AAD), which includes collaboration on the production of The General and the Ambassador, a well-recognized podcast series hosted and produced by Ambassador Deborah McCarthy that focuses on how senior U.S. military leaders partner with senior U.S. ambassadors on national security challenges overseas.

Advance registration for this event is required.

This event is organized by the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs; the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies; and the Center for European Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.


About the Speakers

Ambassador John Tefft

John TefftJohn 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.

Ambassador Deborah McCarthy

Photo of Ambassador Deborah McCarthy

Ambassador Deborah McCarthy is an expert on U.S. foreign and national security policy with over 30 years of diplomatic experience. She was the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania 2013-2016.

Currently, she is a senior fellow at Harvard University. Previously she was a visiting fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. During her diplomatic career, Ambassador McCarthy served as the deputy US ambassador in Greece and in Nicaragua. In Washington, she was the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Economic and Business Affairs, deputy assistant secretary for Narcotics and Law Enforcement, senior advisor for Counter Terrorism and Special Coordinator for Venezuela. Other diplomatic postings include Montréal, Rome, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Ambassador McCarthy received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Virginia and a joint master’s degree in economics and foreign service from Georgetown University. She serves on the Board of the American Academy of Diplomacy and is a Trustee of the Command and General Staff College Foundation. She is a member of the Advisory Council for the master’s program in Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Ambassador Barbara Stephenson

Headshot of Barbara Stephenson. Photo by Kristen Chavez.Ambassador Barbara Stephenson became the inaugural vice provost for global affairs and chief global officer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019. She leads UNC Global and advances a pan-university strategy to enhance Carolina’s global reach, impact and reputation.

Ambassador Stephenson, a fierce advocate for the role of higher education in constructively addressing complex global challenges, has extensive experience forging constructive collaborations across borders and societies. Previously, Stephenson was president of the American Foreign Service Association from 2015-2019 and was a U.S. Foreign Service officer for over 30 years. As dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute, Stephenson launched the Culture of Leadership Roundtable to improve leadership across the State Department and U.S. embassies.

In 2008, she was appointed U.S. ambassador to Panama and later became the first woman to serve as deputy ambassador and acting ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in London. Other senior positions within the State Department include deputy senior advisor to the secretary and deputy coordinator for Iraq, consul general in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and consul general and chief of mission in Curaçao. Other assignments have included special assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Pickering (covering European affairs), desk officer for the UK, political-military officer in South Africa, and political officer in The Hague, San Salvador and Panama.

Ambassador Stephenson, who earned her doctorate, master’s, and bachelor’s degrees. from the University of Florida in English literature, speaks Spanish and Dutch and reads French and Hebrew.

Professor Bob Jenkins

Bob JenkinsRobert “Bob” Jenkins is teaching professor within the Department of Political Science and served as Director of the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies from July 2001 to July 2015. He joined the program in 1999 as Administrative Director for Curricula and was primarily responsible for coordinating the MA degree program, which was introduced that year. His scholarly interests are in the areas of social and political change, political conflict, state building, civil society and the nonprofit sector and education. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987. Prior to joining Carolina, he was an independent consultant and researcher as well as a professor at Yale University. Jenkins has traveled widely through Eastern Europe and has lived in Budapest and Vienna.

Professor Christiane Lemke

Christiane LemkeChristiane Lemke is professor of political science and director of International Relations and European Studies in the Institute of Political Science at Leibniz University Hannover. Prof Lemke has been a visiting scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Center for European Studies several times since 1988. Professor Lemke has been teaching one of UNC’s required TransAtlantic Masters courses: European Integration – Theories, Institutions and Decision-Making Processes (POLI 733) for over a decade. From 2010-14, she held the Max Weber Chair at New York University. Professor Lemke received her Ph.D. from the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the Free University in Berlin and went on to earn her Habilitation Venia legendi in Political Science from the same institution. Professor Lemke has been a visiting scholar at a number of US institutions over the years as she has maintained her permanent faculty positions in Germany. She has taught courses at UNC-Chapel Hill, Stanford University, Harvard University and Suffolk University. In addition, while on leave from the University of Hannover from 2006 to 2007, Professor Lemke served as the Director of State Parliament, Lower Saxony. Professor Lemke’s academic areas of expertise include European Politics, Democracy and Governance in the EU, Transatlantic Relations, Comparative Politics and Political Theory and American Politics. She is the author/editor of numerous books and articles, including: Internationale Beziehungen: Grundkonzepte, Theorien und Problemfelder, 4th ed. (International Relations: Concepts, Theories, and Key Issues, 2018); Germany Today. Politics and Policies in a Changing World, 2018; Europäische Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (European Foreign and Security Policy, 2010), Menschenrechte und Migration (Human Rights and Migration, 2009).