Ambassador Karen Lynn Williams

Ambassador Karen Lynn Williams

Karen L. Williams

Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname

U.S. Department of State


A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, Karen L. Williams was formally nominated by President Donald J. Trump to serve as Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname in July 2018.  She presented her credentials to the President of Suriname, Desiré Delano Bouterse, on November 20, 2018.

Ambassador Williams previously served in the State Department’s Political Military Affairs Bureau (PM) where she was the second-highest ranking official and led all aspects of bureau management.  She also served as Deputy Coordinator for Military Coordination and Operations Policy in the Counterterrorism (CT) Bureau, a Deputy Assistant Secretary-level position in which she held responsibilities including the State Department’s Foreign Emergency Support Team and Hostage Affairs.

She also served as Embassy Kabul’s Transition Director for two years.  As part of those duties, Ambassador Williams was co-director of the International Security Assistance Force’s Interagency Operational Planning Team on the Transfer of Tasks.  Prior to this, she was Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM).  From 2008 to 2010, she was assigned as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Georgetown, Guyana where she served 21 months as Charge d’Affaires.

She served tours in Paraguay, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia-Herzegovina and as Deputy Director of Caribbean Affairs in Washington, D.C.  Ambassador Williams’ government career began in 1991 with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA).  Prior to joining USIA, Ambassador Williams directed the editorial department of a national specialty newspaper publisher in Kansas City, and was also editor-in-chief of the Springfield Business Journal in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri.

Ambassador Williams holds a master’s degree from the National War College and an undergraduate degree from Drury University.  She is the recipient of the SOCOM Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, Department of State Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well as Drury’s 2003 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.