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February 7, 2024


Heather Variava was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on January 19, 2024.  She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor.  Previously, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.  She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Mission to Indonesia, and as U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, Indonesia.

In Washington, Ambassador Variava was Director of the Office of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State; she also worked at the State Department Operations Center and served as the country desk officer for Thailand in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.  A member of the U.S. Foreign Service since 1996, Ambassador Variava has also served overseas in India, Mauritius, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ambassador Variava worked as a newspaper reporter in Waterville, Maine. Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Ambassador Variava received an undergraduate degree in International Relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.  She holds master’s degrees from the University of Missouri and from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.  In 2012, Ambassador Variava received a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and in 2014 she completed a fellowship in executive leadership with the International Women’s Forum (IWF).  She is the recipient of numerous Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, as well as a Presidential Rank Award.  She speaks Indonesian and has studied Vietnamese, French, and German.  Ambassador Variava is married to Billy Variava, and they have two sons.