Term of Appointment: September 2018 to present
Karen Decker has served as the Director of the Syria Transition Assistance Response Team (START) since June 2016. START implements foreign assistance in northern Syria, and is responsible for all humanitarian and stabilization assistance in support of the C-ISIS campaign. As the Director, Karen leads inter-agency teams in Turkey and Syria.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Karen has specialized in assignments that involve conflict resolution and crisis management. She served multiple tours in southern and eastern Afghanistan, most recently as the Senior Civilian Representative for the 14 eastern provinces from 2012-2014.
She has served as Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Estonia (2007-2010), and in political/political-military assignments in Greece (2003-2006), at the U.S. Mission to NATO (1998-2001) and in Bosnia (1995-1998). Her first overseas tour was in Pakistan in 1990.
Washington assignments include the Foreign Service Institute, the Bureau of European Affairs (NATO/OSCE), and the State Department’s Operations Center. From 2001-2002, Karen served in Washington, D.C. as the Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs. In the days and weeks after September 11, 2001, Karen traveled extensively with the Assistant Secretary to build European support for and contributions to Operation Enduring Freedom.
Karen is the recipient of numerous performance awards from the Department of State and the Department of Defense. In 2001 Secretary of State Colin Powell awarded Karen the Director General’s Award for Reporting and Analysis for her work to elaborate U.S. objectives in the Balkans. She holds the rank of Minister-Counselor.