Asia Foundation Trustee Kathleen Stephens to Receive Distinguished Friend of Korea Award

San Francisco, September 20, 2016 — kathleen-stephensYesterday, Friends of Korea (FOK) announced that The Asia Foundation Trustee Ambassador Kathleen Stephens will be awarded the first annual Kevin O’Donnell Distinguished Friend of Korea Award on September 24 at the FOK annual membership meeting in Washington, DC. The award, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the arrival of the first Peace Corps Volunteers in South Korea in 1966, recognizes an individual whose distinguished contributions embody the goal of Friends of Korea: strengthening bonds between Americans and Koreans.

Ambassador Stephens, a career diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service, was U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea from 2008-2011. Most recently, she was based in India as the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, and prior to that she was Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in 2012. From 2005 to 2007 she was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Ambassador Stephens served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Korea in the 1970s, and served as chief of the U.S. embassy’s political unit in Seoul. She recently joined the Korean Studies Program at Stanford University’s Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center as the program’s 2013–14 Koret Fellow, where her research interest focused on Korea’s modern journey, with particular attention to South Korea’s political development, to the impact of cultural and social change on its politics, and to the role of the United States.

Ambassador Stephens received the 2009 Presidential Meritorious Service Award. She has also been awarded the Korean government’s Sejong Cultural Prize in 2013, the Pacific Century Institute’s Building Bridges Award in 2011, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, the Kwanghwa Medal of Diplomatic Merit from the Korean government, and the Korea-America Friendship Association Prize.

Since 1954, The Asia Foundation’s programs in Korea have responded to a rapidly changing economic and political environment. Korea has undergone a dramatic transition, developing into an advanced economy and robust democracy that is considered a model for others. The Foundation supports Korea’s efforts to expand and deepen international development cooperation and knowledge-sharing within the Asia-Pacific region. The Foundation’s Korea programs also facilitate Northeast Asian regional cooperation, including exchanges with North Korea.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our work across the region addresses five overarching goals—strengthen governance, empower women, expand economic opportunity, increase environmental resilience, and promote regional cooperation.

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