Heather Variava

Heather Variava
Honorary Speaker

Heather Variava has been the Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines since September 2021.  She is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister Counselor.  Previously, Ms. Variava served as the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to Indonesia.  While in Jakarta, Ms. Variava played a leading role in strengthening the U.S.-Indonesia Strategic Partnership.  She also guided the Embassy and Consulates in Indonesia through the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and she supported U.S. collaboration with Indonesia to respond to the pandemic, including the provision of vaccines and ventilators.

From 2015 to 2018, Ms. Variava served as the U.S. Consul General in Surabaya, Indonesia, where she led the Consulate General in diplomatic engagement with eastern Indonesia. Previously, she served as the Director of the Office of Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and Bhutan in the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. A member of the U.S. Foreign Service since 1996, Ms. Variava has worked overseas in Mumbai, India; Port Louis, Mauritius; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Washington, she also has served at the State Department Operations Center and on the Thailand desk.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Variava worked as a newspaper reporter in Waterville, Maine. Raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, she received an undergraduate degree in international relations from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and received a master’s degree in European Studies from the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. In 2012, Ms. Variava received a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College in Washington, DC, and in 2014 she completed a fellowship in executive leadership with the International Women’s Forum (IWF). She and her husband have two sons.