Rick Barton (diplomat)

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Ambassador Frederick Barton Shaping the Future of Education - Ministerial Breakfast Roundtable.jpg

Frederick "Rick" Barton (born September 5, 1949) is a United States diplomat, educator and author. He served as the founding Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State until September 2014.[1] Currently a Lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School he is also the co-director of the University's Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative (SINSI) with his wife, Kit Lunney.[2] In the fall of 2016, he was an Annenberg Scholar at Principia College in Illinois.[3]

Early years and education[edit]

Barton, was the youngest son of an American diplomat. He was born in Buenos Aires. He lived in Spain, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, and Mexico, as well as in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, and Bronxville, New York. He attended Deerfield Academy and earned a B.A. in government from Harvard College in 1971 and an MBA from Boston University in 1982. He received an honorary doctorate from Wheaton College of Massachusetts in 2001.


Early career[edit]

During the first two decades of Barton's career, he lived in New England, primarily in Portland, Maine. He worked in U.S. Rep. William Hathaway’s successful 1972 campaign for election to the U.S. Senate and served as an aide to him in Maine from 1973 to 1975. In 1976 Barton sought election as the Congressman from the First District, beating six other candidates in the Democratic primary but losing to the incumbent, Republican David F. Emery.

From 1978 to 1981 Barton worked for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now Health and Human Services) as the New England Regional Director for Public Affairs, based in Boston. He then returned to Portland, establishing Barton & Gingold, a marketing & strategic planning firm. In addition to working as a consultant, he hosted a public affairs TV show, taught a senior seminar at Bowdoin College, co-founded the World Affairs Council of Maine, and, from 1986 to 1989, chaired the State Democratic Party.

Diplomatic career[edit]

Barton’s diplomatic career began in 1990, when he was selected as an election trainer and observer in Haiti for the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and also volunteered in Poland and Ethiopia. In 1994, he became the founding director of the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) within the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to advance peaceful democratic change in conflict-prone places such as Bosnia, Rwanda, Haiti, Liberia, and Mindanao in the Philippines.

Barton was appointed Deputy High Commissioner of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland in 1999, serving under Sadako Ogata and then Ruud Lubbers. He left that post in 2001 and became the Frederick Schultz Professor at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School.[3] From 2002 to 2009 Barton was Co-Director of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he served as an expert adviser to the Iraq Study Group, led conflict-related working groups for the United States Institute of Peace and the Princeton Project on National Security, and produced reports on Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, religion in conflict, measurement of progress, and U.S. legislative policy.

Barton attained the rank of ambassador in 2009, when President Obama named him the U.S. Representative to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), working on development, peacebuilding, climate change, and human rights with Ambassador Susan Rice. During that time, Barton was actively engaged in the creation of UN Women, the advancement of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the Millennium Development Goals summit, the suspension of Libya’s voting rights on the UN Human Rights Commission, Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction, Democracy Fund initiatives, and efforts to better align U.S. and UN development country programs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton selected Barton to serve as the first Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO),[4] and he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 2012.[5] CSO was established after the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), succeeding the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS). Barton’s work at the UN and CSO led to a 2013 Distinguished Honor Award from the Department of State “in recognition of your groundbreaking work to create the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, promote peacebuilding and empower women, youth and other change agents seeking peaceful change in their communities and societies” including Nigeria, Syria, Honduras, Burma and Kenya.[6][7] Barton stepped down as Assistant Secretary on September 30, 2014.[8] A summary article was published in PRISM, a journal of the National Defense University.[9]

A lecturer at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, Barton co-directs the University's Scholars in the Nation's Service Initiative (SINSI) with his wife, Kit Lunney. In the fall of 2016 he was an Annenberg Scholar at Principia College in Illinois and serves on the Boards of the Institute for Sustainable Communities and the Alliance for Peacebuilding. He serves as a global advisor to a number of new ventures and was recently profiled in Deerfield Magazine.[10] On October 25, 2017 he delivered the 25th Frank M. Coffin Lecture [11] at the University of Maine School of Law.[12] Barton's book Peace Works on improving peacebuilding, a blend of history, policy, personal accounts, and guidance was published by Rowman & Littlefield in April, 2018. Barton is an Advisory Board Member of Spirit of America, a 501(c)(3) organization that supports the safety and success of Americans serving abroad and the local people and partners they seek to help.[13]

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Barton, Lunney Named Co-Directors of SINSI". 5 August 2016.
  3. ^ "Ambassador Rick Barton: Peacebuilder and Annenberg Scholar - Principia News".
  4. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". The White House. November 29, 2011.
  5. ^ "Senate Ends March Madness With Lots of State Dept Confirmations". Diplopundit. April 2, 2012.
  6. ^ "A Niger Delta Legacy - Dawn in the Creeks – Spreading the word on National TV". www.stakeholderdemocracy.org.
  7. ^ Rick Barton (9 March 2015). "Rick Barton's Farewell Speech" – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Departure of Assistant Secretary for Conflict and Stabilization Operations". U.S. Department of State. August 13, 2014.
  9. ^ "Golden Opportunities For Civilian Power" (PDF). cco.ndu.edu.
  10. ^ "The Grassroots Ambassador".
  11. ^ "Judge Frank M. Coffin Lecture on Law and Public Service - University of Maine School of Law".
  12. ^ UMaine Law (25 October 2017). "Coffin Lecture Series" – via YouTube.
  13. ^ https://spiritofamerica.org/staff/amb-rick-barton

External links[edit]