THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
dren were small, there was a lot of stigma attached—especially
for female officers—to leaving the office at the end of the day to
pick up your children from day care (these were the days before
Diplotots). We weren’t considered “serious” about our work.
My first child was born while we were in Bangkok. Being a
pregnant political officer who wanted time off was enough of
a shock for my colleagues in the section; but when I needed to
extend my time off by a little bit longer, I found out that there
were back-channel communications between the political
counselor and the office director in Washington about my “lack
of seriousness” about my job.
Amb. Amy Hyatt:
My biggest work-life challenge was dur-
ing an ordered departure in Cairo, where I was the manage-
ment counselor. I was a single mom and had to put my teenage
daughter on a plane to the States without me. I had no family in
the States to send her to, but relied on dear friends to meet her
at the airport and take care of her, while I focused on helping the
embassy deal with the evacuation. It was the toughest thing I
had to do as a parent in the Foreign Service.
Amb. Jennifer Zimdahl Galt:
I was faced with the choice
of staying at a post with a toxic work environment or curtailing
at the risk of interrupting my children’s high school education.
After many lengthy family discussions, I chose to curtail. It was
the first time in my career that I could not get along with a super-
visor, in this case the ambassador. I had not been his choice for
the position, and he resented my presence from day one and
made no effort to pretend otherwise. Our conflict had nothing
to do with our respective genders—my predecessor had been
a woman with whom he got along famously. During our family
discussions, it also came out that neither of my children was
altogether happy with the school, so while they weren’t happy to
move three years in a row, they didn’t mind leaving the school.
Somehow things always work out.
Have you ever been subject to harassment or discrimina-
tion; and, if so, how did you handle it?
Amb. Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley:
yes. My generation was taught to be careful of male egos (and
power), so I generally did the usual and laughed it off, avoided
the person where I could or made excuses to reject the advances.
There was one occasion in the department when a boss touched
me and I told him if he did it again, I’d knock the s--- out of him.
He did not repeat it, but he did try to get me to curtail from the
On another occasion it happened at the National Security
Council. Initially I parried the advance from a senior member of
Ambassador Deborah Malac
Deborah Malac joined the Foreign Ser-
vice in 1981. She has served in a variety
of positions in Washington, D.C., Africa
and Southeast Asia. From 2012 to 2015
she served as U.S. ambassador to the
Republic of Liberia; she has been U.S. ambassador to the
Republic of Uganda since February 2016. Amb. Malac is
married with three grown children.
Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt
Jennifer Zimdahl Galt was sworn in as
ambassador to Mongolia in September
2015. A career member of the Senior For-
eign Service, Amb. Galt served previously
as principal officer in Guangzhou. She
has also served in Belgrade, Taipei, Mumbai, Beijing,
Shanghai and at the U.S. Mission to NATO in Brussels, as
well as in Washington, D.C. She holds master’s degrees
from the National Defense University and the Johns
Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Amb. Galt is married to writer Fritz Galt, and they have a
son and a daughter, both in college.
Ambassador Erica Barks-Ruggles
Erica Barks-Ruggles is U.S. ambassador
to the Republic of Rwanda. She and her
tandem husband are career Foreign Ser-
vice officers. She previously served as U.S.
consul general in Cape Town, as deputy to
the United States Permanent Representative to the United
Nations, and as deputy assistant secretary for Democracy,
Human Rights and Labor. Amb. Barks-Ruggles served
previously at the National Security Council, as a visiting
fellow at the Brookings Institution and as an international
affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She has
also been posted to Norway and India.
Always ask “What is the right thing to
do?” and formulate policy and management around
that. Never just do what is expedient, easy, uncontrover-
sial or cheaper; do what is right.
Always be courageous in standing up for your
beliefs and values, and in supporting your team.