Kenton Keith

Kenton Keith is a native of Kansas City, Missouri. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas with a major in International Relations. Ambassador Keith served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1965. He is married to the former Mireille Luc and has two grown children.


Ambassador Keith has received two Presidential meritorious service awards and various individual and group superior and meritorious honor awards, including one for his work at the 1991 Middle East peace conference in Madrid. He is a Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters, an honor conferred by the French government in recognition of his contribution to cultural and educational exchange between France and the U. S.

Ambassador Keith serves as chair of the Alliance for International Cultural and Educational Exchange. He is currently president of the Association of Black American Ambassadors.

From 1992 to 1995 he served as Ambassador to the State of Qatar. Previous assignments were Counselor for Press and Cultural Affairs in Cairo, Senior Cultural Affairs Officer in Paris and various posts in the Near East (including Iraq and Lebanon), in Turkey and Brazil. In 1996 Ambassador Keith served as USIA representative to the interagency planning team charged with designing the reorganization of foreign affairs agencies.

Ambassador Keith assumed the duties of Senior Vice President of Meridian International Center in late 1997 after a career as a Foreign Service Officer with the United State Information Agency. His primary responsibility at Meridian is management of the professional exchanges activities associated with the State Department’s International Visitor Program. He retired from USIA with the rank of Career Minister.

Kenton Keith was appointed the Department of State’s Special Envoy to Islamabad from November 2001 to January 2002 to set up and direct the Coalition Information Center in Pakistan and to serve as the spokesperson on Coalition activity in Afghanistan. This included briefing world media on developments in the military, political and humanitarian objectives of Coalition nations in the conflict against international terrorism following the attacks on the United States in September 2001.

At the time of his retirement, Ambassador Keith was Director of USIA's Office of North African, Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, managing field operations, public diplomacy activities and budget for the Agency’s largest geographical bureau.

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