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 laude graduate 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.