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Smyth GS '10, Lukens '82, and Knapper '91 named acting ambassadors to Ireland, the UK, and South Korea


Lonnie Reece Smyth GS '10, Lewis Lukens '86 GS '03, and Marc Knapper '91 were named chargé d'affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassies in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and South Korea respectively.

A chargé d'affaires is a diplomat who runs the U.S. Embassy in the absence of an ambassador, and is effectively an acting ambassador. Smyth, Lukens, and Knapper are holding temporary positions, and will vacate their positions once President Donald J. Trump's nominees for U.S. Ambassadors are confirmed in Congress. President Trump has nominated Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV, the owner of the New York Jets, to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom.


The former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O'Malley, the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun, and the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Mark Lippert, resigned on Jan. 20, 2017, following Trump's inauguration.

Smyth joined the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, Ireland, in September of 2016 to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission. Previously, Smyth served at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was the counselor for Political and Economic Affairs.

Smyth said he was looking forward to sharing his "experience of visiting this wonderful country and getting to know the Irish people."

Smyth also worked at the U.S. Department of State, where he was the deputy director of the State Department's Office of United Nations Political Affairs with "responsibility for the conduct of multilateral diplomacy with the UN Security Council and General Assembly."

He served at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), where he was the action officer in the NATO-Russia Council. He was also a senior economic officer at the Department of State's Office of Arabian Peninsula Affairs. In addition, Smyth served as a watch officer in the Operations Center, and worked in Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Pakistan.


Smyth joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1999, and previously worked as a senior trade consultant in London and New York.

He graduated with an undergraduate degree from Baylor University in Texas, and earned his Masters in Public Policy from the Wilson School in 2010. He also holds a master's degree from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium.

Lukens was named chargé d'affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in London, where his job is analogous to the chief operating officer of the U.S. Mission to the United Kingdom. In 2016, Lukens was named Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in London.

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From 2014-2016, Lukens was the U.S. Department of State's Diplomat in Residence for the Northwest, where he maintained an office at the University of California, Berkeley. As Diplomat in Residence, Lukens was responsible for "recruitment and outreach" for the State Department in Montana, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.

In 2011, former President Barack Obama nominated Lukens to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, where he ran one of the largest embassies in Africa. From 2008 to 2011, Lukens was executive director of the State Department's Executive Secretariat, where he "directed all management support for [former] Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, including her overseas travel."

From 2005 to 2008, Lukens served as the Consul General in Vancouver, where he managed U.S. relations with Western Canada. From 2001 to 2005, he held multiple positions, including the Senior Director for Administration at the National Security Council, the Management Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Ireland, and the Executive Secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Lukens has also worked in Australia, Côte d'Ivoire, and China.

Lukens was asked to testify in the case revolving around former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email server. In May 2016, he gave a deposition to the public interest group Judicial Watch, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over Clinton's emails.

During the deposition, Lukens "testified that he communicated with Clinton aide Cheryl Mills in 2009 about how the secretary could use her email for personal use, for what he thought would be keeping in touch with friends and family."

He added that he "suggested setting up a stand-alone computer in the secretary’s office but that Mills said that Clinton did not know how to use one for email, relying only on her Blackberry for that purpose."

At the University, Lukens majored in history, and wrote his senior thesis on "American Foreign Policy toward French West Africa: 1953-1963." He also obtained a Masters of Public Policy from the Wilson School in 2003. His father, Alan Lukens '46, was also a career foreign service officer, as he served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo in Brazzaville.

Knapper is a member of the Senior Foreign Service at the State Department, and has served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul since April 2015. Prior to that, he was the Director of the State Department's Office of India Affairs and the Office of Japanese Affairs. He has also worked at the U.S. Embassies in Baghdad, Tokyo, and Hanoi.

This is Knapper's third stint in Seoul, having served at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul from 1993 to 1995 and from 1997 to 2001. He has also worked at the State Department's Office for Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, and was an aide to former U.S. Ambassador to Japan and Presidential candidate Walter Mondale.

Knapper has also traveled twice to North Korea. In 1997, he served as the State Department representative to the Sprint Fuel Team at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and in 2000, he was part of the advance team for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's visit to Pyongyang.

Knapper has received numerous awards from the State Department, including Linguist of the Year and three Superior Honor Awards. At the University, Knapper received a degree in Politics and a certificate in East Asian Studies. His senior thesis was titled "From Agreement to Implementation Win-Sets, Japanese Domestic Politics, and the United States-Japan Security Relationship."

Knapper has also pursued graduate studies at the University of Tokyo, and is fluent in Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese.