U.S. Department of State


Phyllis E. Oakley is Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. A career Foreign Service Office and member of the Senior Foreign Service, she became Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau, which was previously known as the Bureau for Refugee Programs, in September 1993. She was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Analysis in the Bureau of Intelligence Research from 1991 to 1993.

Mrs. Oakley served as the Deputy Spokesman for the State Department from November 1986 until the end of January 1989, the first woman to hold this position. From 1989 until mid-1991, she was on loan to A.I.D., working with the Afghanistan Cross-Border Humanitarian Assistance Program in Islamabad, Pakistan. She was the State Department's Afghanistan Desk Office from 1982 to 1985.

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Mrs. Oakley grew up in St. Louis, is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Northwestern University, and holds a Master's Degree from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. She has also taught American History at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, and served as a consultant in international affairs to the National Board of the YWCA in New York City.

In the State Department, Mrs. Oakley has had a wide range of assignments with primary emphasis on the Middle East, first in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and as a Special Assistant on the Middle East to Mr. Philip Habib, when he was Under Secretary for Political Affairs. In addition, she worked with Congressional and Public Affairs in the Latin American Bureau and served as Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Kinshasa, Zaire, from 1979 to 1982. Mrs. Oakley also served in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs as the Legislative Management Officer for the Near East and South Asia. From September 1985 to June 1986, she was a Pearson Exchange Fellow in the Office of Senator Charles Mathias.

Mrs. Oakley joined the State Department in 1957. Upon marrying a fellow Foreign Service Office, she resigned a year later in accordance with regulations prohibiting married female officers in the Foreign Service. She was able to rejoin the Foreign Service in 1974. She and her husband, retired Ambassador Robert B. Oakley, have two grown children and two grandsons.

Phyllis Oakley has received two Departmental Superior Honor Awards, for her performance as Afghanistan Desk Officer and as Deputy Spokesman, and the Intelligence Community's National Intelligence Medal of Achievement. She was elected a member of the Cosmos Club in 1988 and is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

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