Content Block Preview: CDIO Town Hall Bio

Speaker Bios

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a 30-year diplomat, is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Department of State and was the longest serving U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta. Through a series of senior positions that included advising the Commander of U.S. cyber forces on our foreign policy priorities, expanding our counterterrorism partners and programs as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and Coordinating the largest evacuation of American citizens from a war zone since WWII, her professional life has played out almost daily in international media.

She began her formal work in teaching and leadership development as Chairwoman for Middle East Area Studies at the prestigious Foreign Service Institute where U.S. diplomats are trained. Earlier in her career, she served in Baghdad, Jakarta, and Cairo before taking on the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for the Middle East and Africa. Her Middle East assignments include election monitoring in the Gaza Strip and an extraordinary assignment where she actively supported gender equality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the first woman to lead a diplomatic mission there. In addition to the State Department, she has held senior positions at the Defense Department and at the National Security Council. Prior to that, she was a fellow on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the then Ranking Member, Senator Joseph Biden. Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley is the recipient of the Maltese Order of Merit, Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, including “For acts of courage during an attack on the U.S. Consulate General, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 6, 2004 by al-Qa’ida terrorists.”  She is the co-author of two papers published in the New York Review of Science Fiction on “Diplomacy in Star Trek” and “The Representation of Disability in Star Trek.” In 2019, she was voted into the American Academy of Diplomacy.

Constance (Conny) Mayer is the Department’s new Office of Diversity and Inclusion (S/ODI) ranking civil service officer, serving as the Deputy Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (D/CDIO). Prior to joining S/ODI, Conny worked in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) where she drafted the Bureau’s first-ever five-year strategic plan, while serving as the Deputy Director of INR’s Office of Near East Analysis. In 2020, Conny was a Brookings LEGIS Congressional Fellow in the Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar. Conny has served as the Acting Director of INR/NEA as well as INR’s Office of Intelligence Operation and Oversight, as Director of Israeli-Palestinian Affairs at the National Security Council, at the U.S Consulate in Jerusalem as Political Counselor, and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as a Political-Military Affairs Officer. From 2010 to 2013, Conny was the Deputy Director of the President’s Daily Brief, responsible for strategically re-orienting the enterprise to ensure that all relevant Intelligence Community agencies were contributing their expertise to the President’s book, per the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission. Conny started her overseas service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. She has a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York and a BA from the University of Delaware in Political Science and Communications.