Donna Welton serves as acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Programs and Operations in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. She previously served in PM/SNA as lead negotiator for bilateral defense agreements that involve access, status protections, and burden sharing. With more than 25 years’ experience in the Foreign Service, Donna has held key positions in strategic communications and political affairs at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. She comes to PM after a year serving as Assistant Chief of Mission in Kabul. Prior to her Afghanistan tour she was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Helsinki, Finland, serving for over 18 months as Chargé d’affaires. Before moving to Finland, she held a temporary assignment at the Department of Defense as the acting Director for Southeast Asia in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy).
Donna began her career with the United States Information Agency in 1984 and did three tours in Asian posts that included serving in the Republic of Korea as the Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Seoul from 1984 to 1986 and as American Center Director in Daegu from 1986 to 1988, before returning to graduate school in 1992. After completing coursework for a doctorate in Princeton’s Asian Art and Archaeology Department, she worked as a curator of Japanese art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as an exhibitions curator at the American Federation of Arts in New York.
Donna then returned to the Foreign Service with the Department of State in 2000, serving in public diplomacy positions in Tokyo, Nagoya, Washington, and Jakarta, and as Consul General in Sapporo, Japan. After finishing a master’s degree in Strategic Studies at the Army War College she was assigned as Counselor for Public Affairs in Kabul, followed by a year at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations as Deputy Director of Communications and Public Affairs. Ms. Welton returned to Japan as Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs in June 2013, serving until August 2015. She speaks Japanese fluently, and also speaks Korean, Indonesian, German, some Dari, and Finnish.