Patricia A. Butenis

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Patricia Agatha Butenis
Ambassador butenis.jpg
United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka
In office
August 19, 2009 – June 29, 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
United States Ambassador to the Maldives
In office
August 19, 2009 – June 29, 2012
PresidentBarack Obama
United States Ambassador to Bangladesh
In office
April 13, 2006 – June 23, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byHarry K. Thomas Jr.
Succeeded byJames F. Moriarty
Personal details
Born1953 (age 65–66)
NationalityUnited States
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania, Columbia University

Patricia Agatha Butenis (born 1953)[1] is an American diplomat. In 2014 she retired with the rank of Career Minister.

Early life and education[edit]

Butenis was born in New Jersey[2] in 1953 to Charles P. and Haifa Butenis (née Michalezka). The eldest of three daughters, she grew up in Atco, New Jersey.[3][4] She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts degree in international relations from Columbia University.


Butenis joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1980 and served consular tours in Karachi, Pakistan; San Salvador, El Salvador; New Delhi, India; and Bogotá, Colombia.

As the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 2007 to 2009,[5] Butenis won the State Department's Baker-Wilkins Award as the Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission (2008).

She was deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, and after that, the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh from April 13, 2006 to June 23, 2007.[6] From 2009 to 2012, Butenis was the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the U.S. Ambassador to the Maldives.[7]

Butenis' final career assignment was as the Dean of the School of Professional and Area Studies in the Foreign Service Institute.

Diplomatic-cable leak by WikiLeaks[edit]

Butenis sparked controversy in Sri Lanka in late 2009 when WikiLeaks — an international new-media, non-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks — disclosed diplomatic cables sent by her on verifying the accountability of war crimes that allegedly happened in the final stages of Sri Lankan Civil War (1983–2009).[8][9]

WikiLeaks also leaked Butenis's Bangladesh mission, where she worked during a volatile political situation in 2006-07 period [10] and met political leaders including Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia and Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury and there were moves to solve the political deadlock.[11] She had series of meetings with various leaders including military officials.[12]


  1. ^ Patricia A. Butenis (1953–)
  2. ^ "Butenis given assignment in Iraq by year end". The Daily Star. 30 January 2007.
  3. ^ "Hafia (Hazel) Butenis". The Philadelphia Inquirer (Obituary). 29 June 2009 – via
  4. ^ 2006 Congressional Record, Vol. 152, Page S1353 (February 15, 2006)
  5. ^ Archived 2011-09-17 at the Wayback Machine CNN − Iraq: Blackwater staff to face charges, September 23, 2007. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  6. ^ "Patricia A. Butenis Biography". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 15 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Ambassador Patricia A. Butenis". Embassy of the United States: Sri Lanka and Maldives. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  8. ^ "Sri Lanka War Crimes Accountability: The Tamil Perspective". WikiLeaks. December 2, 2010. Archived from the original on January 4, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  9. ^ Staff writer (December 1, 2010). "US Worried on Sri Lanka Rights Probe: WikiLeaks". Agence France-Presse (via Google News. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  10. ^ "Cable Viewer".
  11. ^ "Cable Viewer".
  12. ^ "Cable Viewer".

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Harry K. Thomas Jr.
United States Ambassador to Bangladesh
Succeeded by
James F. Moriarty
Preceded by
Robert O. Blake, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Michele J. Sison