Mary Catherine Phee
|Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs |
Assumed office |
December 12, 2017
|United States Ambassador to South Sudan|
July 23, 2015 – 2017
|Preceded by||Susan Page|
1963 (age 54–55)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Indiana University, Bloomington|
Mary Catherine "Molly" Phee (born 1963) is a diplomat and a former United States Ambassador to South Sudan. She was nominated by President Barack Obama on September 17, 2014 and confirmed by the Senate June 24, 2015. She was sworn in on July 15, 2015, to replace Susan D. Page, who had resigned.
Early life and education
Phee is from Chicago. She was an undergraduate at Indiana University, where she earned a B.A. She pursued graduate studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, earning an M.A. in Law and Diplomacy in 1989. As part of her graduate studies, she participated in an internship program with the United Nations Environment Programme that involved travel and study in Kenya.
Phee served as Counselor for Political Affairs and Deputy Security Council Coordinator at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. Then in 2008, Phee then took an assignment in Italy as the regional affairs coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus invited Phee to join the Joint Strategic Assessment Team established in 2007 to revise the U.S. strategy in Iraq. She then returned to Washington to serve as director for Iraq at the National Security Council. In that role she was responsible for coordinating the U.S. transition from military to civilian operations.
From 2011 to 2014, Phee served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When President Obama nominated her to become Ambassador to South Sudan, she was already serving as Chief of Staff at the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan.
When the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not immediately confirm Phee’s nomination, several NGO’s wrote to the committee urging it to quickly confirm the nomination, given the difficult situation in South Sudan. The organizations included Better World Campaign, The Enough Project, Humanity United, Jewish World Watch, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam America, Relief International, Save the Children, United to End Genocide, and Water for South Sudan. The NGO’s protested that the U.S. had been without a confirmed Ambassador to South Sudan since August 2014. They noted that the absence of an ambassador in a country involved in a "deadly, costly and geopolitically destabilizing civil war" had limited the U.S. ability to successfully promote peaceful resolution.
In accepting the role of Ambassador in 2015, Phee was expected to oversee the relief effort of $456 million donated by the U.S. for over a million people displaced by the war, as well as revive the peace talks in Addis Ababa.
In addition to English, Phee speaks fluent Arabic.
- Senate confirms six ambassadors, including two for Baltics The Washington Post, June 24, 2015
- Testimony of Mary Catherine Phee Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan March 25, 2015 Senate Foreign Relations Committee U.S. Senate, March 25, 2015
- U.S. Department of State, Mary Catherine Phee U.S. Department of State,accessed April 18, 2016
- US president to nominate S. Sudan ambassador The Sudan Tribune, September 19, 2014
- THE CASE OF THE HIGH COURT SCRAP The Washington Post, June 16, 1987
- U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan: Who Is Molly Phee? AllGov, November 30, 2014
- Rory Stewart, The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq, Harcourt; First Edition (July 26, 2006) ISBN 978-0151012350,pp 180-182
- Bob Woodward, The War Within: A Secret White House History, 2006-2008 , Simon & Schuster; First edition (September 8, 2008) ISBN 978-1416558972, p. 335
- NGOs Urge Senate to Confirm Ambassador to South Sudan Enough Project, June 4, 2015
- Who is the new US ambassador to South Sudan? The New Nation, October 6, 2014
| United States Ambassador to South Sudan