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Ambassador James B. Cunningham

Term of Appointment: 8/2012 to present

Ambassador James B. Cunningham
Ambassador James B. Cunningham

Ambassador Cunningham was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan on 08/12/2012.   Ambassador Cunningham previously served as the Deputy Ambassador.

Before his tenure in Kabul, Ambassador Cunningham was the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, beginning August 2008.  Prior to Israel, he was U.S. Consul General in Hong Kong, responsible for the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions of China.  Previously,  he was Ambassador and Deputy U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations (1999-2004) and Acting Permanent Representative from January to September 2001. Ambassador Cunningham holds the rank of Career Minister in the Foreign Service.

After early tours in Stockholm, Washington, Rome and the U.S. Mission to NATO, he served as Chief of Staff to NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner from 1988 to 1990. He advised the Secretary General on all NATO issues in the context of the unification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.

Just after Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, Ambassador Cunningham became Deputy Political Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the UN. From 1993 to 1995, he served as Director of the State Department's Office of European Security and Political Affairs, with responsibility for many aspects of U.S. policy toward Europe. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Rome from 1996 to 1999.

Ambassador Cunningham was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University, with degrees in political science and psychology. He is married to Leslie Genier of Mineville, New York. They have two daughters. Ambassador Cunningham is the recipient of the Department's Superior, Merit and Performance awards; the National Performance Review's Hammer Award for innovation in government management; the President's Meritorious Service Award; and the Conference of Presidents of major Jewish Organizations' National Service Award. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society.

Visit the website of the Embassy of the United States in Kabul, Afghanistan


USAID Mission Director William Hammink

Term of Appointment: 7/2013 to present

USAID/Afghanistan Mission Director William Hammink
USAID/Afghanistan Mission Director William Hammink

William Hammink became Director of USAID’s largest mission on   June 20. Mr. Hammink was sworn in as USAID/Afghanistan mission director by USAID Administrator Raj Shah in Washington, DC.

Mr. Hammink is a Career Minister in the Senior Foreign Service, with more than 32 years at USAID working on international development and humanitarian programs.

He served as USAID mission director in India from August 2011 until his Afghanistan appointment, overseeing a $109 million program addressing the critical challenges of food security, climate change and health. Under his leadership, the mission engaged in a new model of development cooperation, in which U.S. assistance was a powerful catalyst in the creation of innovative alliances with Indian public and private partners to reduce poverty in India.  This new development model also sought to leverage Indian creativity, expertise and resources to source, and scale innovations being developed and tested in India that would benefit vulnerable populations in other countries.

Prior to his mission in India, Mr. Hammink was USAID mission director in Sudan from 2009 until 2011. The Agency helped parties of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement implement many of the agreement’s provisions, including nationwide elections in April 2010—the first multiparty elections since 1986—and a peaceful, on-time referendum on South Sudan’s self-determination in January 2011.

Earlier, Mr. Hammink was deputy assistant administrator in the USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade.  Appointed to this position in September 2007, He provided senior policy advisory and management services in agriculture, economic growth, development credit and education.  He also co-chaired a U.S. Government interagency food security task force and served as the USAID representative to the G-8 food security experts group.

Mr. Hammink managed more than $2 billion in U.S. food aid as director of the Office of Food for Peace, from 2006-2007, testifying before three U.S. congressional committees on reauthorization of the Farm Bill.  From 2003 to 2006, he was USAID mission director in Ethiopia, managing one of the largest USAID programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Hammink received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Minnesota, and has served in eight posts on three continents: India, Sudan, Swaziland, Senegal, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Russia and West Bank/Gaza.


USAID Deputy Mission Director Sepideh Keyvanshad

Term of Appointment: 7/2014 to present

Sepideh Keyvanshad

Sepideh Keyvanshad is currently serving as Deputy Mission Director at USAID/Afghanistan.  Her previous experience working on Afghanistan includes positions as Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan Economic Affairs at the National Security Council, and as Senior Development Advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Department of State.  Prior to her arrival in Afghanistan, she served as the Deputy Director of USAID’s Office of Civil Military Cooperation.   A Foreign Service Officer at the US Agency for International Development, Ms. Keyvanshad has been working in the international development field for over 20 years, including the US Government and non-governmental and multi-lateral organizations, serving in various countries including Haiti, Russia, and El Salvador. 

Ms. Keyvanshad received her law degree and bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois.  She also holds a Master of Sciences in Strategic studies from the National War College.  She speaks Farsi and Spanish.  She has two children, Andre and Jacqueline. 


USAID Deputy Mission Director James Hope

Term of Appointment: 10/2013 to present

USAID Deputy Mission Director James Hope
USAID Deputy Mission Director James Hope

Mr. Hope is a Senior Foreign Service Officer with 20 years experience working on international development programs with USAID. 

Prior to arriving in Kabul, he served as Deputy Mission Director at USAID/Kenya from 2008-2013 helping oversee a $500 million annual program. Kenya is a focus country for Presidential and Agency initiatives including Feed the Future, Global Health (PEPFAR) and Global Climate Change. USAID’s Kenya programs focus on advancing democratic transition, reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS, strengthening health services, increasing food security and enhancing quality of early grade reading and teaching. A high visibility youth program encourages young Kenyans to participate in the governance process and develop useful work skills. 

Mr. Hope also chaired the Horn of Africa Joint Planning Cell (JPC) to develop innovative approaches for drought resilience by linking humanitarian and development assistance.                          

From 2007 to 2008, Mr. Hope was the Director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Office at USAID/Afghanistan. He led a $250 million involving over 50 field-based staff with focuses on improving security, extending Afghan government reach and promoting development. He worked closely with other government agencies, the U.S. military and NATO.    

Mr. Hope served at USAID/Indonesia from 2004-2007 where he led a $157 million Presidential foreign policy initiative to improve basic education in Indonesia. He also worked on tsunami recovery. 

From 2001-2003 Mr. Hope served as Deputy Program Officer at USAID/Indonesia and managed the mission’s strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, public outreach, and donor coordination for an annual $130 million budget.

Prior to joining USAID’s Foreign Service, Mr. Hope worked as a contract Program Officer for USAID/Bosnia from 1995 to 1999 supporting implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords and post-war recovery and reconstruction.

From 1994 to 1995 he worked at USAID/Poland supporting a $60 million annual program to support Polish transition to democracy and economic reforms.

Mr. Hope received a Bachelor’s degree in History from American University and a Master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies from Yale University. He speaks Polish and received a State Department Fascell Fellowship to serve at the U.S. Embassy Warsaw from 1990-1993. His home is Austin, Texas.


USAID Deputy Mission Director Roy Plucknett

Term of Appointment: 5/2014 to present

Roy Plucknett

Roy Plucknett, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, joined USAID Afghanistan as one of three Deputy Mission Directors. He arrived in Kabul after a tour in the Republic of Georgia, as the USAID Deputy Mission Director from September 2012 to March 2014. Previously he served from September 2010 to June 2012 as the Director of Acquisition and Assistance for USAID Afghanistan.

He began his U.S. Government career in 1988, as a Contracting Officer with the Defense Logistics Agency in Washington, D.C. Since joining USAID in 1993, he has served as a Contracting Officer in Washington, and the Missions in Ukraine (1996-1998), Egypt (2000-2005), and West Bank and Gaza (2005-2010).

Roy Plucknett was born in Honolulu, HI, and earned his undergraduate degree from George Mason University and a master’s degree in management from Florida Institute of Technology. He is married to Andrea Plucknett. They have two children.

Last updated: December 17, 2014

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