Yates retired as a Senior Foreign Service officer in September 2011 after 31 years with State. Her final assignment was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) of the White House from January 2011- August 2011 after serving as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning and Special Assistant to the President from June 2009 – December 2010. Following her retirement, she served as Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum, Sudan for the Department of State through February 2012. In the fall of 2012, Ambassador Yates was nominated to serve as a director of the Atlantic Council, Washington, D.C. and as a member of the Board of Regents of the Oregon State University Honors College, her alma mater.
Ambassador Yates came to the NSC directly from serving as Deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Activities (DCMA) for the United States Africa Command, (AFRICOM) October 2007 – May 2009, the first such military command to have two co-equal 3-star level deputy commanders (military and civilian). From 2005-2007 Ambassador Yates served as Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) to the United States European Command (EUCOM) led by General James Jones.
A Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor, Ambassador Yates began her diplomatic career in 1980. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana from 2002 until 2005. While serving as Ambassador to the Republic of Burundi from 1999 until 2002, she worked extensively to bring peace and stability through the Burundian Peace Process, led by President Nelson Mandela. She also served in Kinshasa, Zaire (Congo) as Political Officer and then Public Affairs Counselor from 1991-1995, during the critical period of genocide in neighboring Rwanda. Her other assignments included Paris, Manila, Seoul and the Department of State, Washington DC.
A native of Portland, Oregon, Ambassador Yates earned her BA in English from Oregon State University and a Masters in Comparative East-West Humanities from New York University (NYU), where she advanced to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Asian Studies. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of English from her alma mater, Oregon State University, in June 2007. She is married to a diplomatic colleague, Amb (ret) John M. Yates, and is the stepmother of five children.