Consul General - Cape Town
Consul General Erica J. Barks-Ruggles
Ms. Barks-Ruggles is the Consul General of the United States in Cape Town, South Africa. Before her arrival in Cape Town, Ms. Barks-Ruggles served for two and one-half years as the Deputy to the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From January 2009 to July 2011, she led the Washington office for Ambassador Susan Rice. Serving in this sub-Cabinet position, she was a member of the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, in charge of advising the Cabinet, National Security Council and President Obama on all foreign policy issues.
Prior to this assignment, from November 2005 to January 2009, Ms. Barks-Ruggles served for three years as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. In that capacity she led all U.S. efforts to promote democracy and human rights in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and through multilateral institutions. As part of these efforts, she oversaw the programming of over $200 million annually in Human Rights and Democracy assistance.
Before joining the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Ms. Barks-Ruggles, who is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff. There she focused on Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Maghreb and the Levant as well as regional reform and democratization efforts, including BMENA and outreach efforts to the Muslim world.
Ms. Barks-Ruggles has also served as the Deputy Head of the Political-Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway, from August 2001 to May 2004. Before her assignment in Oslo, she was an International Affairs Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations and a Guest Scholar at The Brookings Institution analyzing the economic impact of HIV/AIDS on small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa.
Previously, Ms. Barks-Ruggles worked on the staff of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas R. Pickering, as his Special Assistant in charge of Africa, South Asia, and human rights. Before that assignment she served for three years as Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House as the expert on Africa trade policy and West and Southern Africa. She traveled the continent extensively with the President, the First Lady, and the Secretary of State and served as the point person for early U.S. efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa, while also leading the three-year fight to secure passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Before joining the NSC, Ms. Barks-Ruggles worked in the State Department Secretariat on the Secretary of State’s traveling staff, as the Special Assistant to the Special Envoy on Nigeria, and desk officer for Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Ms. Barks-Ruggles has also served in India.
Ms. Barks-Ruggles holds a Bachelors Degree with Honors in Biology and English literature from Swarthmore College. A native of Minnesota, Ms. Barks-Ruggles is married to a fellow Foreign Service Officer. She speaks and reads French and Norwegian.