One-time E.V. resident now ambassador to S. Korea - East Valley Tribune: News

One-time E.V. resident now ambassador to S. Korea

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Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2008 6:01 pm | Updated: 8:53 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Traveling around the world for the past 30 years hasn't caused Ambassador Kathleen Stephens to forget her life growing up in Scottsdale.

Stephens was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 9 to be ambassador to SouthKorea.

Although Stephens was born in El Paso, Texas, she moved with her family to Scottsdale when she was 7 years old.

Even at an early age, politics began to shape Stephens' life. Politics were usually the topic at family get-togethers.

When the family moved farther south, Stephens attended now-closed Apache Elementary School, where she was the inaugural class president. "I was always interested in politics," she said.

In high school, Stephens participated in student government, cheerleading, horseback riding and other outdoor activities.

After graduating from Prescott College in northern Arizona, Stephens applied to the Peace Corps, and was offered a volunteer position teaching English in South Korea.

"It was a big shock moving to Korea," she said. "It was the first time I had lived through a really cold winter."

Stephens stopped by the East Valley last weekend and reminisced with her mother and brother.

"We drove into the old neighborhood, went to a little place to eat and saw our old house," she said.

"She is one of the brightest, smartest and most energetic people I know," said her brother Jeff Stephens.

Kathleen Stephens joined the Foreign Service in 1978. Her overseas assignments took her to China, South Korea, Northern Ireland, Portugal and Yugoslavia.

She was the political adviser in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State before being confirmed as an ambassador.

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