John A. Heffern

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John A. Heffern
John A. Heffern US State Dept photo.jpg
United States Ambassador to Armenia
Assumed office
October 6, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Marie L. Yovanovitch
Personal details
Born Saint Louis, Missouri
Alma mater Michigan State University

John A. Heffern is the United States Ambassador to Armenia.[1] After being nominated in May 18, 2011 by United States President Barack Obama,[2] Heffern was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 26, 2011[3] and sworn in as Ambassador on October 6, 2011.

Early life and education[edit]

Heffern was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, the son of Elleard Buridan Heffern and Beulah "Jo" Heffern.[4] His father served briefly in the Foreign Service, and met his wife in India. Heffern’s mother is a naturalized citizen. After graduating from the Saint Louis Priory School, Heffern attended Michigan State University, receiving his B.A. in 1976.


After college, Heffern served in the office of Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO) as the Senator's Office Director and Research Assistant. He joined the Foreign Service in 1982 and has been a career Senior Foreign Service officer ever since. His early postings included in China, Taiwan, and Ivory Coast. He was later assigned to Kuala Lumpur, and then held postings in Washington, among them as Malaysia Desk Officer, related to Southeast Asia. He later From 1994 to 1996, he served as a Pearson Fellow on the Asia Subcommittee for the House International Relations Committee, for Congressman Doug Bereuter (R-Nebraska). He subsequently served as Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Mission to NATO (USNATO).[5][6]

Following postings in the Human Resources Bureau in Washington as Executive Assistant to Under Secretary for Political Affairs and as Deputy Chief of Mission at U. S. Embassy, Jakarta, Indonesia, he reported in 2009 to the U. S. Mission to NATO as the Deputy Permanent Representative. Most recently he has served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at USNATO, in Brussels, Belgium.

Ambassadorship to Armenia[edit]

Initially, U. S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) held up Heffern's nomination as a protest against President Barack Obama's "refusal to characterize the Turkish killing of Armenians during World War I as a 'genocide.'" At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Heffern dodged the controversy by stating that “the characterization of those a policy decision that is made by the President of the United States.”,[7][8] He was later unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,[9] and confirmed by the U. S. Senate.

In the fall of 2011, Heffern expressed his view that Armenia's elections in 2012 and 2013 would be "regarded as democratic," and described his meetings with Armenian president Serge Sargsyan and Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian as "'very good'."[10]

On April 3, 2012, addressing a meeting in Yerevan, Armenia dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Armenia-U. S. relations, According to the Yerevan Report, Ambassador Heffern stated that "bilateral dialogue between the two countries is held at the highest level."[11] Proof of this includes the facts that "Armenian President Serge Sargsyan had a meeting with US President Obama and...US State Secretary Clinton paid a visit to Armenia--for the first time during the last 18 years."

Since assuming his post, Heffern has followed his predecessor by posting video blogs on topics related to Armenia and his service in that country to YouTube, under the "usembassyarmenia" tag.[12]


  1. ^ US Embassy Armenia: Ambassador
  2. ^ Obama Nominates John Heffern for Armenia Ambassadorship
  3. ^ United States Senate Nominations Confirmed (Civilian)
  4. ^ Princeton Alumni Weekly Memorial for Elleard Buridan Heffern
  5. ^ United States Department of State Biography for John A. Heffern
  6. ^ United States Department of State Information on John A. Heffern
  7. ^ Ambassador to Armenia: Who is John Heffern?
  8. ^ Washington Times: Embassy Row: "NOMINATION DELAYED"
  9. ^ Armenia News: John Heffern Unanimously Approved as US Ambassador to Armenia
  10. ^‘best-elections-ever’-in-armenia/ US Wants ‘Best Elections Ever’ in Armenia
  11. ^ John Heffern: Armenia – US Relations Are Closer Than Ever
  12. ^ YouTube: US Embassy Armenia