Odyssey Medal

Alan Eastham, Jr.

EasthamAmbassador Alan Eastham is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service.  He joined the State Department as a junior officer in January 1975.  He most recently served as Ambassador to the Republic of the Congo.  His previous assignments include Ambassador to Malawi from October 2005 - August 2008 and Director of the Office of Central African Affairs (August 2002-May 2005), overseeing relations between the U.S. and ten countries in the center of the African continent.

He began his career as a vice consul in the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal (1975-1978), followed by Washington assignments in public affairs (1978-80), the counterterrorism office (1980-82), as Sri Lanka/Maldives desk officer (1982-3) and India desk officer (1983-84).

In 1984, Eastham was assigned as principal officer of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, a post he held for three years during the height of the Afghan resistance to Soviet occupation.  In 1987, he returned to Washington as special assistant for Near East and South Asia in the office of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. His involvement in U.S. relations with Africa began in 1989 when he was assigned as political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, followed in 1992 by a two-year tour as political counselor in Kinshasa (then Zaire).

From Zaire, Eastham was assigned in 1994 as U.S. Consul General in Bordeaux, France, and in 1995 became political counselor in New Delhi.  In 1997, he moved to Islamabad, Pakistan, as deputy chief of mission and in 1999 again returned to Washington as principal deputy assistant secretary for South Asian Affairs.  After serving as acting assistant secretary for South Asian Affairs from January to May 2001, he was named special negotiator for Conflict Diamonds in the Economics and Business Bureau, a position he held from September 2001 to August 2002 in which he negotiated the Kimberley Process agreement regulating the global trade in rough diamonds.  Eastham was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Malawi in August 2005.

Ambassador Eastham was born and raised in Dumas, Ark.  In addition to his Hendrix degree, he also holds a juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. He and his wife Carolyn have two sons, Mark and Michael.

In the fall of 2010, Ambassador Eastham took a position as Senior Fellow in International Relations and International Programs at Hendrix.  In this role, Eastham works with the International Programs Office to assist students who would like to study or do research overseas. He also teaches courses including U.S. Foreign Policy, Comparative Foreign Policy-Africa, and a topics course on South Asia.