WASHINGTON: Former State Department official Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir has been picked by President Joe Biden to serve as Ambassador to Indonesia. Kamala has served in the Department of State for almost 30 years, most recently as an executive secretary.
Before serving as the US Ambassador to Malaysia from 2017 until 2021, she served as the Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, and from 2009 through 2011 she served as the US Consul General in Northern Ireland.
Joining the Foreign Service in 1991, Kamala first served at the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia and was the Director of the Office of Maritime Southeast Asian Affairs, which includes responsible for US relations with Indonesia.
Early in her career, she was Deputy Coordinator of the Taiwan Coordination Staff in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Her other overseas assignments were in China, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.
Born to an Indian father and American mother, Kamala earned a BA from Harvard College and an MS from the National War College. Growing up in Westport, Connecticut, Kamala’s father immigrated to the US from Mumbai to attend the University of California, Berkeley in the 1940s.
In an interview published in the National Museum of American Diplomacy, Kamala says her “international career began as a child” because of her parents’ rich international background and family trips abroad.
The experiences encouraged Kamala to begin her career overseas as a teacher in China for two years after graduating from Harvard College in 1986.