Executive Director

Executive Director

Photo of John M. O'Keefe, Executive Director, Open World Leadership Center.
John M. O'Keefe, Executive Director, Open World Leadership Center.

John M. O'Keefe
Executive Director, Open World Leadership Center
Term of Appointment: August 2007 to present

Former ambassador John O'Keefe, of Vienna, Virginia, is the Executive Director of the Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress. Before assuming his duties as Executive Director, he had a long and distinguished career with the U.S. Department of State.

As U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic from 2000 to 2003, O’Keefe negotiated the treaty allowing Coalition forces to establish a base there in support of operations in Afghanistan. He also set up an investment advisory council headed by the President of Kyrgyzstan to attract foreign capital, worked with Kyrgyzstan’s President and Minister of Education to make university acceptance merit-based, and created an outreach program to the Muslim community.

O’Keefe served as Acting Director General of the Department of State in 2006 and then as Deputy Director of the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department through August 2007). From 2003 to 2005, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of the Director General, Bureau of Human Resources, and head of the Office of Career Development and Assignments, where he negotiated rigorous career development requirements for Foreign Service personnel

As new states emerged in the seismic shift of political fortunes in the 1990’s, he helped set up and staff 20 embassies in the new states of the former Soviet Union, Central Europe and the Balkans. Later, as Management Minister Counselor in our embassy in Moscow, he oversaw the on schedule/within budget construction of the secure chancery, restructured services contracts to save millions of dollars, and led the development of and initial fund-raising for the Anglo-American School’s new $45 million campus.

Ambassador O'Keefe has received the Distinguished Honor Award, the Replogle Award for Management Improvement, the Secretary of State Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Presidential Meritorious Service Award. He was also awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the American University Central Asia.

Ambassador O'Keefe has a B.S. in Business Administration from Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard University. He speaks Russian.