Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley is a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Middle East Security Initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East Programs and at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security. A thirty-year diplomat, Abercrombie-Winstanley served as the US ambassador to the Republic of Malta and is the person to serve longest in the role. Through a series of senior positions that included advising the commander of US cyber forces on US foreign-policy priorities, expanding US counterterrorism partners and programs as deputy coordinator for counterterrorism, and coordinating the largest evacuation of US citizens from a war zone since World War II, her professional life has played out almost daily in international media.
She began her formal teaching and leadership development work as chairwoman for Middle East Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute, where US diplomats are trained. Earlier in her career, she served in Baghdad, Jakarta, and Cairo before taking on the position of special assistant for the Middle East and Africa to the secretary of state. Her Middle East assignments included election monitoring in the Gaza Strip and an extraordinary assignment where she actively supported gender equality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the first woman to lead a diplomatic mission there. In addition to the State Department, she has held senior positions at the Defense Department and at the National Security Council. Prior to that, she was a fellow on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the ranking member at the time, then Senator Joe Biden. Abercrombie-Winstanley is the recipient of the Maltese Order of Merit, Foreign Policy for America’s Community Leadership Award, Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards for acts of courage during an al-Qaeda attack on the US Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 6, 2004.
Over the years, Abercrombie-Winstanley has been a keynote speaker on foreign-policy issues for a variety of organizations including IESAbroad, the Cleveland City Club, TrueBlue Inclusion, Harvard University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, the University of Denver, the University of Malta, and Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center. She has been a panelist and moderator at several international think tanks, including the German Marshall Fund, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the World Affairs Council, and the Council on Foreign Relations on issues including US Middle East policy, how diversity and inclusion improves US foreign policymaking, cyber security challenges, and counterterrorism. Most recently, the Department of State’s inaugural chief diversity and inclusion officer, she is the president of the Middle East Policy Council and a strong proponent of excellence through diversity across organizations. She strives to strengthen merit-based decision-making by eliminating barriers to the full participation of women and minorities.
Abercrombie-Winstanley, a Cleveland native, has degrees from George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy. She has been an active board member and advisor for several organizations committed to excellence in educating and leadership development, including the Middle East Policy Council, the Forum on Education Abroad, College Now of Greater Cleveland, Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security, and the International Career Advancement Association. Abercrombie-Winstanley is a co-founder of the Leadership Council for Women in National Security and has written for the Foreign Service Journal and the New York Times. She is also the co-author of two papers published in the New York Review of Science Fiction.