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came from reaching my goal of being an ambassador, however,

has given me the space to feel like I don’t always have to know

the answer. I have brilliant staff to help me get it right.


Can you share a formative experience (professional or

otherwise) that helped shape your leadership vision and/or style?

Amb. Erica Barks-Ruggles:

When I was a teenager, I was

a newspaper carrier, and the district manager passed me over

for a more junior (male) carrier for an important regional job

that would have given me a pay raise. My parents supported my

protest to the top management of the newspaper. I demanded

fair treatment and the raise I would have gotten had I not been

discriminated against (the district manager admitted that the

only reason I did not get the job was because I was a “girl”).

I got the raise. That taught me to demand equal treatment, not to

settle for being passed over, and to always raise your hand and

ask for the promotion/better job/tougher assignment. Nobody

was going to give it to me just because I deserved it.

Amb. Jennifer Zimdahl Galt:

Serving as principal officer

in Guangzhou, overseeing a consulate general that more than

doubled in size during my tenure. Because I did not have a

deputy and the bureau didn’t support the creation of one, I was

chief cook and bottle washer. Leading a team of more than 500,

including 65 first- and second-tour officers, taught me more

about management, security and personnel than I had learned

in the first 25 years of my career. I loved every minute of it and

would do it again in a heartbeat.


Nina Hachigian

Nina Hachi-

gian, a political

appointee, was

sworn in as the

second resident

U.S. ambassador to the Associa-

tion of Southeast Asian Nations

in September 2014 and served

through January 2017. During

her tenure, the United States and

ASEAN became strategic part-

ners. Previously, Amb. Hachigian was a senior fellow at

the Center for American Progress and served as director

of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy. From 1998

to 1999, she was on the staff of the National Security

Council under President Bill Clinton. She is the edi-

tor of

Debating China: The U.S. - China Relationship in

Ten Conversations

and co-author of

The Next American

Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise


Amb. Hachigian holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale

University and a law degree from Stanford University.

She is married with two children.

Her advice for younger women:

Take a risk!

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-


Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley served

as U.S. ambassador to Malta from 2012

to 2016. A career member of the Senior

Foreign Service, Amb. Abercrombie-Winstanley previ-

ously served as principal officer in Jeddah. She has also

served overseas in Iraq, Israel, Egypt and Indonesia. In

Washington, D.C., she served as foreign policy adviser

at U.S. Cyber Command, deputy assistant secretary for

counterterrorism and at the National Security Council.

She holds a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School

of Advanced International Studies. Amb. Abercrombie-

Winstanley is married and has a son and a daughter.

Her mantra:

I wish I’d known I pretty much knew as

much as my colleagues and to voice my ideas more.

While serving as U.S. ambassador to the Association of

Southeast Asian Nations, Nina Hachigian visited all 10 ASEAN

countries, and took this selfie along the way.