John F. Tefft

John F. Tefft bigraphy, stories - American diplomat

John F. Tefft : biography

1949 –

John F. Tefft (born 1949) is the United States Ambassador to Ukraine. He has been a career Foreign Service Officer for thirty-three years.

Tefft is also a former United States Ambassador to Georgia and Lithuania, as well as former Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Russia.

Diplomatic career

Ambassador Tefft is a career member of the United States 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 and Tbilisi.

Until his appointment as ambassador to Georgia, he was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs from July 6, 2004. Tefft also served as International Affairs Advisor (Deputy Commandant) at the National War College in Washington, DC. 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 has also 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 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.

Current Post

On September 30, 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Tefft as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine., Interfax-Ukraine (September 30, 2009) The U.S. Senate appointed Tefft as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine on November 20, 2009., Interfax-Ukraine (December 2, 2009) Tefft arrived in Ukraine on December 2, 2009. President of Ukraine Victor Yushchenko accepted Teffts credentials of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador on December 7, 2009. The Ambassador expressed his hope for fruitful cooperation. Tefft delivered his speech in Ukrainian., UNIAN (December 7, 2009)


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.


John 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.

Tefft is married to Mariella Cellitti Tefft, a biostatistician and nurse. They have two daughters, Christine, 38, a lawyer at the Dept. of State in Washington, DC, and Cathleen, 34, a program analyst at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C.

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