Senior State Department Officials to Visit Zimbabwe

Dr Shannon Smith in Zimbabwe December 2013
Dr Shannon Smith in Zimbabwe December 2013

Two senior State Department officials, Dr. Shannon Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs and Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, will visit Zimbabwe May 12 – 16, 2015:. The two officials will meet Embassy staff as well as representatives of government, business, and civil society organizations.

The visit will enable the officials to hear first-hand from representatives of government, representatives of opposing political parties, and civil society organizations about issues including human rights, democracy and governance since the adoption of Zimbabwe’s constitution in May 2013.

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Dr. Shannon Smith was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs in May 2013. Prior to joining the State Department, she served as the senior policy adviser for Africa and global health for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2007 to 2013 under Chairmen Biden, Kerry, and Menendez and managed additional issues including peacekeeping and food security. While working in the Senate, she shepherded the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2008, which reauthorized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, through drafting and final enactment.

She also oversaw successful legislation to expand the State Department Rewards Program to include contemporary war criminals and organized crime and initiated provisions that culminated in the first National Intelligence Assessment on the national security implications of global climate change, along with other legislative measures.

As the senior staffer for Africa, she traveled widely on the continent, leading staff delegations and accompanying then Chairman Kerry on numerous trips to Sudan and South Sudan during the process leading up to the 2011 referendum on independence. Before joining the Foreign Relations Committee, Dr. Smith worked in the House of Representatives and as the foreign policy and national security adviser for Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Assistant Majority Leader. Prior to her work in the policy arena, Dr. Smith served as an assistant professor of history. She is a summa cum laudegraduate of Texas A&M University, a former Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, a graduate of Cornell University, and a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Steven Feldstein is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). He is responsible for DRL’s work in Africa, international labor affairs, and international religious freedom.

Previously, Mr. Feldstein served as the Director of the Office of Policy in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning at the U.S. Agency for International Development and was responsible for guiding strategic planning and operations, providing high-level policy direction on emerging issues and priority areas, and shaping USAID’s policy leadership in the development community.

From 2007-2011, he served as Counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (under former Chairmen Joe Biden and John Kerry) where he oversaw a portfolio that included oversight over all U.S. foreign assistance agencies, budgets and programs, State Department management and operations, and international organizations. He has also worked at the State Department for the Under Secretary for Economics and Business Affairs, as well as with the International Rescue Committee in Rwanda and Croatia. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the Society for International Development – Washington Chapter, and has taught at American University’s School of International Service. He is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and received his J.D. from Berkeley School of Law and his A.B. from Princeton University. He was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana.