John F. Tefft

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John Tefft
John F Tefft ambassador 2014.jpg
United States Ambassador to Russia
Assumed office
November 19, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Michael McFaul
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
In office
December 7, 2009 – July 9, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by William Taylor
Succeeded by Geoffrey Pyatt
United States Ambassador to Georgia
In office
August 23, 2005 – September 9, 2009
President George W. Bush
Barack Obama
Preceded by Richard Miles
Succeeded by John Bass
United States Ambassador to Lithuania
In office
August 30, 2000 – May 10, 2003
President Bil Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded by Keith Smith
Succeeded by Stephen Mull
Personal details
Born (1949-08-16) August 16, 1949 (age 66)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
Spouse(s) Mariella Cellitti
Children Christine
Alma mater Marquette University
Georgetown University

John F. Tefft (born August 16, 1949) is a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer since 1972. He was confirmed as the United States Ambassador to Russia on July 31, 2014.[1] He has previously served as the United States' ambassador to Ukraine,[2] Georgia, and Lithuania, as well as chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of the United States in Moscow, Russia.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Tefft is a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service, with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor. He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1972 and has served in Jerusalem, Budapest, Rome, Moscow, Vilnius, Tbilisi, and Kiev.

Until his appointment as ambassador to Georgia, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs since July 6, 2004. Tefft also served as International Affairs Advisor (Deputy Commandant) of the National War College in Washington, D.C. From 2000 to 2003, he was the United States Ambassador to Lithuania. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1996 to 1999 (when Pickering was Ambassador), and was chargé d'affaires at the Embassy from November 1996 to September 1997. Tefft served as Director of the Office of Northern European Affairs from 1992 to 1994, Deputy Director of the Office of Soviet Union (later Russian and CIS) Affairs from 1989 to 1992, and Counselor for Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Rome from 1986 to 1989. His other foreign assignments included Budapest and Jerusalem, as well as service on the U.S. delegation to the START I arms control negotiations in 1985.

In addition, he has served in a number of positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C. and held a fellowship, working in the United States Congress.

On September 30, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Tefft as the next ambassador to Ukraine[3] and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 20, 2009.[4] Tefft arrived in Ukraine on December 2, 2009[4] and President Viktor Yushchenko accepted Teffts credentials of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary on December 7, 2009. The Ambassador expressed his hope for fruitful cooperation. Tefft delivered his speech in Ukrainian.[5]

On February 26, 2013, President Obama nominated Geoffrey R. Pyatt to succeed Tefft as Ambassador of the United States to Ukraine.[6] Pyatt was sworn in on July 30, 2013 and arrived in Ukraine on August 3, 2013.[2]

In July 2014, President Obama nominated Tefft as the United States Ambassador to Russia in Moscow, after receiving Russia's approval.[7]

The Senate confirmed Tefft in a voice vote on July 31, 2014.[8] The confirmation followed several attempts as a number of ambassadorial appointments were being held up at the time. Strained relations with Russia over pro-separatist activity in eastern Ukraine, the country's annexation of Crimea, and the shooting down of a commercial airliner, prompted senators to finally approve the nomination.[9] He presented his credentials to President Vladimir Putin on November 19, 2014.[10]


USA - DOS Distinguished Honor Award.png

Tefft has received a number of awards, including the State Department Distinguished Honor Award in 1992 and the DCM of the Year Award for his service in Moscow in 1999. He received Presidential Meritorious Service Awards in 2001 and 2005.


Tefft is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and holds a B.A. degree (1971) from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a M.A. degree in history (1978) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.[11]

Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine, a lawyer at the State Department in Washington, D.C., and Cathleen, a program analyst at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.

Source and References[edit]

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Keith Smith
United States Ambassador to Lithuania
Succeeded by
Stephen Mull
Preceded by
Richard Miles
United States Ambassador to Georgia
Succeeded by
John Bass
Preceded by
William Taylor
United States Ambassador to Ukraine
Succeeded by
Geoffrey Pyatt
Preceded by
Michael McFaul
United States Ambassador to Russia