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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Biographies

Erica J. Barks-Ruggles

Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

Ms. Barks-Ruggles is a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. A career member of the Foreign Service, she focuses on policy, programming, multi-lateral and global affairs. Her particular interests include the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and UN Human Rights efforts.

Prior to joining the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Ms. Barks-Ruggles was a member of the Policy Planning Staff working in the office of the Secretary of State. There she focused on Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and Palestinian affairs, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, as well as regional reform and democratization efforts, including BMENA, MEPI and outreach efforts to the Muslim world.

Before joining the Policy Planning staff, Ms. Barks-Ruggles was the Deputy Head of the Political-Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway from August 2001 to May 2004. There she was responsible for leading section activities on economic issues, including the oil and energy sector, fisheries and trade relations. She was also in charge of Africa and South Asian issues, including Afghanistan, peace negotiations in Sri Lanka and Sudan. Prior to her assignment in Oslo, she was an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Guest Scholar at The Brookings Institution for 1 year analyzing the economic impact of HIV/AIDS on businesses in South Africa.

Previously, Ms. Barks-Ruggles worked on the staff of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas R. Pickering as his Special Assistant in charge of Africa, South Asia and Human Rights. Before that assignment she served for three years as Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House. From December 1996-August 1999, she was the National Security Council expert on West and Anglophone Southern Africa and Africa trade policy, and principally in charge of policy in those areas. She traveled the continent extensively with the President, the First Lady and the Secretary of State in her capacity at the National Security Council. She headed an interagency team in charge of formulating a new policy to support the democratic transformation in Nigeria, served as the point person for nascent U.S. efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, and led the 3-year fight to secure passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Before joining the NSC, Ms. Barks-Ruggles worked in the State Department Secretariat on the Secretary of State’s traveling staff. From June1994-August 1996 Ms. Barks-Ruggles served as the Special Assistant to the Special Envoy on Nigeria, and desk officer for Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Ms. Barks-Ruggles joined the State Department in October 1991 and served from April 1992- May 1994 in Madras, India.

Ms. Barks-Ruggles has been awarded several individual and group Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards while with the State Department. She holds a Bachelors Degree with Honors in Biology and English literature from Swarthmore College. A native of Minnesota, Ms. Barks-Ruggles speaks and reads French and Norwegian.

Released on April 12, 2006


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