Katharine Beamer '01

Foreign Service Career Conversation

On May 17, students interested in a public service career had the opportunity to speak with Senior Foreign Service Officer and IR alum Katharine Beamer ‘01 in the IR office lounge. IR senior Deborah Jantz moderated the conversation. In speaking on what inspired her to pursue a career in the State Department at such a young age, Beamer noted that her undergraduate experience majoring in International Relations at Stanford inspired her to seek change. Rather than being a critical observer of the decision-making processes of the U.S. government and former diplomats, Beamer wished to use the skills she had acquired in college to contribute to a more meaningful implementation of U.S. diplomacy abroad.

Throughout her career, Beamer has served in U.S. Embassies in Latin America and Europe, namely the countries of Guatemala, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. In describing her role as a U.S. diplomat on the ground in these countries, Beamer stated she felt more like a bureaucrat in Europe and more like a leader in Latin America. In Europe, Beamer worked closely with European partners and international institutions to tackle pressing global issues. In Latin America, Beamer was able to influence and directly contribute to human rights and democracy promotion in the region. When asked which region she prefers working in, Beamer chose Latin America because her “desire to contribute, to have a sense of purpose, and make a meaningful impact” was most potent in Latin America.

At the end of the hour-long conversation, Beamer left IR and prospective IR students with a book recommendation, The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal written by William J. Burns, the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She hopes that it can provide students interested in public service careers with more context on the complexities of implementing U.S. foreign policy objectives on the ground.


See Katharine Beamer's bio

Write up by Kelly S. Kim ’23, a rising senior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Modern Languages (Mandarin Chinese & Spanish). She is also pursuing a coterminal master’s degree in Communication, Media Studies. Her interests lie at the intersection of global criminal justice, cyber policy, and political communication.