Ambassador Makila James is a senior advisor within the Africa Center. Ambassador James formerly served as the deputy assistant secretary for East Africa and The Sudans at the Department of State from 2018-2020. Prior to that position, she was on the faculty of the National War College from 2016-2018 and served as the director of the International Student Management Office at the National Defense University (NDU) for eight months. She was the United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini from 2012-2015.
During Ambassador James’ 32-year foreign service career, she has held a variety of positions in Washington and overseas, including as the director of the Office of Caribbean Affairs (2010-2012), deputy director of the Office of Southern African Affairs (2007-2009) and principal officer of the Consulate General in Juba, Southern Sudan (2006-2007).
Previously, Ambassador James was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff and was a research fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She also served as an international relations officer in the Office of International Organization Affairs, desk officer in the Office of West African Affairs and as a watch officer in the State Department’s Operations Center. Her overseas assignments have included postings as political officer in Zimbabwe, political/economic officer in Nigeria and consular officer in Jamaica.
Ambassador James received a bachelor’s from Cornell University, a master’s in National Security Studies from NDU, and a juris doctorate from Columbia University.