Ambassador Joyce Anne Barr was born in 1951 in Tacoma, Washington. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University in 1976, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. Ambassador Barr earned her Master of Public Administration degree from Harvard University and also holds a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, a part of the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Barr entered the United States Foreign Service in September 1979. She has worked in several embassies abroad. Her previous foreign assignments include posts in U.S. embassies in Stockholm, Sweden (1980), Budapest, Hungary (1982), Nairobi, Kenya (1985), Khartoum, Sudan (1989), and Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (1998). Ambassador Barr also served as Counselor for Management Affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In addition to her assignments abroad, Barr has worked in numerous domestic capacities mostly with the U.S. State Department. Barr has served as a Foreign Service Recruitment Officer in the Bureau of Personnel, the Human Rights Officer for the Middle East and South Asia in the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs all in the State Department. She has also been temporarily assigned as a desk officer for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the World Tourism Organization in the Bureau of International Organizations.
Barr has also participated in the Pearson Fellowship Program which affords Foreign Service Officers the opportunity to work on Capitol Hill for one year to observe the legislative process. As a Pearson Fellow, Barr focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa and also coordinated efforts to increase international trade opportunities for Mississippi’s agricultural exports.
On July 2, 2004, Barr was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia. After U.S. Senate confirmation she served in this capacity until July 31, 2007.
After leaving her post as Ambassador to the Republic of Namibia in 2007, she was appointed Executive Director for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the State Department. In this position she was responsible for the management operations of 45 overseas posts. Barr served in this capacity until 2009. Ambassador Barr also served as International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commandant for the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University.
On December 17, 2011, Barr was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of State for Administration. In this position her duties include overseeing overseas schools, records management, privacy programs, the Working Capital Fund and presidential travel.
Ambassador Barr has received both Swedish and Russian language training. She has earned three group Superior Honor Awards and a Performance Pay Award from the Department of State, in addition to an Honorary Doctorate from Pacific Lutheran University.