U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video

Biography: David Firestein, Deputy Executive Director and Senior Advisor

A native of Austin, Texas, David J. Firestein studied international relations at Georgetown University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service (1990). He then studied public policy and Asian studies at the University of Texas, earning master's degrees in both fields (1992). Firestein joined the Foreign Service in 1992. In the first years of his career, he served as special assistant to the VOA Mandarin branch chief (1993); U.N. election monitor in Cambodia (1993); and assistant cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he managed a number of USG exchange programs (1993-1997).

From 1998 to 2002, Firestein served at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. From 1998 to 2001, Firestein was the Embassy's deputy spokesman; from 2001 to 2002, he worked in the political section, where he advised the ambassador on media freedom and civil society development. In 2001, while posted in Moscow, Firestein taught a senior-level university course on political consulting and the American political campaign at the prestigious Moscow State University for International Relations (MGIMO), Russia's premier training ground for diplomats. For his efforts over the course of two semesters, Firestein won MGIMO's “Teaching Excellence Award.”

In 2002, Firestein returned to Beijing, where he worked in the political section until December 2003. He was responsible for reporting on political and social developments affecting China's stability. In 2003, he joined the State Department's Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs, where he focused on U.S.-China bilateral affairs and Hong Kong. Firestein then worked in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs’ Office of Economic Policy, where he was an advisor to and principal speechwriter for the U.S. Ambassador for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) affairs. From 2006-2007, he managed Asia-focused regional outreach programs for the Bureau’s Office of Public Diplomacy.

Currently, Firestein serves as senior advisor at the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a presidential panel charged with assessing the effectiveness of U.S. Government public diplomacy programs and operations. He is also an elected member of the Board of Governors of the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the Foreign Service’s union and professional association; and an adjunct professor on the faculty of the University of Texas (Austin), where he teaches graduate courses on U.S.-Russia relations and U.S.-China relations.

A prolific writer, Firestein is the author of three books, over 130 published articles, and a scholastic curriculum. Firestein's Pacific Reflections (Beijing: Oriental Press, 1997) and Here and There (Beijing: China Commercial and Industrial Associated Press, 2004) were bestsellers in China, and his writings have reached audiences numbering well into the millions. Firestein has also spoken across the United States and overseas on U.S.-China relations, U.S.-Russia relations, U.S. public diplomacy, U.S. economic policy, APEC, U.S. politics, and – perhaps most uniquely – the political communication effect of country music. In the latter field, Firestein’s 2005 article, “The Honky Tonk Gap: Country Music, Red State Identity, and the Election of 2004,” is considered a seminal contribution. For his innovative and untiring outreach efforts both at home and abroad, Firestein won the prestigious “Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach” in 2006.

Fluent in Mandarin Chinese and Russian, Firestein has interpreted for dozens of U.S. Cabinet and Cabinet-level officials. Firestein's academic interests include international relations (especially Russia and China), political campaigns and communication, the media and public opinion, and contemporary country music; hobbies include teaching, lecturing, writing, soccer, racquetball, and music.


  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.