A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister-Counselor, Karen Williams assumed her duties as Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) in May 2016. In this role, she leads all aspects of bureau management and acts as head of the Bureau in the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary’s absence.
Senior Advisor Williams had previously served as Deputy Coordinator for Military Coordination and Operations Policy in the Counterterrorism (CT) Bureau. Prior to joining CT, she was the Office Director for the Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) network based in the PM Bureau.
She also served as Embassy Kabul’s Transition Director for two years. As part of those duties, she was co-director of the International Security Assistance Force’s Interagency Operational Planning Team on the Transfer of Tasks (August-December 2012). Prior to this, she was Foreign Policy Advisor to the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. From 2008 to 2010, she was assigned as DCM in Georgetown, Guyana where she served 21 months as Charge d’Affaires.
Her government career began in 1991 when she joined the U.S. Information Agency. She has served tours in Paraguay, Kazakhstan, and Bosnia-Herzegovina and as Deputy Director of Caribbean Affairs in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the government, Senior Advisor Williams directed the editorial department of a national specialty daily newspaper publishing company based in Kansas City, and was also editor-in-chief of the Springfield Business Journal in Springfield, MO.
Senior Advisor 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 her university’s 2003 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.