Career Foreign Service Officer Bernadette Mary Allen was commissioned into the U.S. diplomatic service in January 1980. Twenty-five years later, on October 26, 2005, President George W. Bush appointed Allen to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Niger. She served until January 15, 2010.
Allen was born on June 5, 1955 in Washington, D.C. and raised in nearby Seat Pleasant, Prince George’s County, Maryland. In 1977, in a study year abroad program, Allen earned a Certificate in French Civilization from the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. In 1978 Allen earned a B.A. in French Civilization and Linguistics, at Central College in Pella, Iowa.
From 1980 to 1982 Allen worked as General Services Officer/Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi. From 1982 to 1984 Allen was Consul at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, and in 1984 she received a six-month temporary duty assignment as Consul at the U.S. Consulate in Fukuoka, Japan.
During the years 1987-1989 she completed an M.A. in Human Resources Management at George Washington University, while handling her regular duties as Desk Officer, Regional Affairs Office, Africa Bureau (1985-87), and Visa Officer, Visa Office Coordination Division (1985-89).
Allen studied Mandarin Chinese at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center in 1989 and in Taipei, Taiwan in 1990. Allen is fluent in French and Mandarin Chinese.
Starting two years after the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, from 1991 to 1994 Allen worked as Consular Section Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou, China. Her section was credited with the processing hundreds of Chinese nationals hoping to join family members under temporary protected status in the U.S. Additionally, Allen’s team reported on the condition of Chinese nationals repatriated to China upon interception from foreign smuggling ships on the high seas.
Allen has experience in three Bureaus for overseas duty, including service in Asia and Africa, as well as in the Americas. Following service as Chief of the Montreal Consular Section from 2000 to 2002, Allen served as Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal from 2002 to 2005. While there she was credited with extensive outreach to Montreal’s Haitian and Muslim communities, which includes North Africans and South Asians.
Allen’s awards include a Superior Honor Award for leadership as Consul General in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, a Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding managerial and professional skills in Guangzhou, China, and a Superior Honor Award for outstanding leadership and performance as Visa Coordination Division Director.
Allen holds a lifetime membership in the U.S. Tennis Association. Her other activities have included: volunteering with Big Sisters in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area; Usher Board Chairman at the Carmody Hills Baptist Church in Seat Pleasant, Maryland; President of the Central College African-American Student Organization in Pella, Iowa; and member of the service sorority, Alpha Delta Epsilon.