Acting Assistant Secretary
Matthew Lussenhop joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (PDAS) in July 2019 and is currently the Acting Assistant Secretary. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and has served his country as a Foreign Service Officer since 1990.
Prior to his arrival at ECA, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the United States to the Kingdom of Belgium, August 2016 – June 2019, including 18 months as Chargé d'affaires. From 2013 - 16, he was the DCM at the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Morocco, including ten months as the Chargé d'affaires. Mr. Lussenhop previously served in ECA as a Senior Advisor for Policy from 2011-13.
Mr. Lussenhop has served in the field of public diplomacy and strategic communications in numerous posts overseas, including Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010-11. Other overseas assignments include positions at U.S. embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Muscat, Oman; Rabat, Morocco; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Manila, Philippines.
In Washington, D.C., Mr. Lussenhop has served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near East and North African Affairs, and as Director of Public Diplomacy Training at the Foreign Service Institute.
Mr. Lussenhop is the recipient of multiple State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks Arabic and French, and is a native of Minnesota and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Stacy E. White is currently the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). She joined the bureau as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges. In that role, she is responsible for overseeing a broad array of professional, youth, cultural, sports and tech camp exchange programs for U.S. and international participants, including those supported by the Offices of International Visitors and Citizen Exchanges.
Since 1988, Ms. White has served as an American diplomat abroad at U.S. embassies in Canada, Mexico, Finland, Panama, Malaysia and Indonesia. Most recently, Ms. White was Minister Counselor for Public Affairs in Ottawa, Canada.
In Washington, D.C., Ms. White has served in the Bureau of the Western Hemisphere and in the Foreign Service Institute as the Deputy Director of Public Diplomacy Training. In 2005, she represented the State Department as its Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council. She previously served as the Director of the Office of International Visitors (2016-2018) and the Chief of Cultural Programs in the Office of Citizen Exchanges (2012-2015). She is a great believer in the transformational power of people-to-people exchanges.
Before entering the Foreign Service, Ms. White was an award-winning broadcast journalist in Texas and Oklahoma.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Academic Programs
Ethan joins the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) from Atlanta, GA, where he worked at Emory University's School of Law as Associate Dean overseeing enrollment management and student services including international recruiting and engagement activities. A graduate of Emory Law, Ethan clerked for the Honorable G. Ernest Tidwell of the U.S. District Court of Northern Georgia and then practiced law in Charleston, South Carolina. Before Emory, he completed a Presidential Management Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Education, and received his undergraduate and master’s degrees in public policy from American University. Originally from Louisiana where his family still resides, he says he doesn't return often enough and misses the crawfish and jambalaya.
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy
Nini Forino is the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and the Director of Alumni Affairs in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Prior to this, she was the Director for Press and Public Diplomacy for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs. She joined the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer in 2000 and has served overseas in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Ho Chi Minh City. In Washington, Ms. Forino has served in the Offices of Japan and Korea Affairs and Regional Security and Policy in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and the Office of Regional Strategy in the former Bureau of International Information Programs.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Forino worked for the State Department at U.S. Embassies in the Philippines and Thailand. She has received several State Department awards, including Superior Honor and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well as the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association award for her work leading the State Department’s participation in the 2012 Yeosu Expo in the Republic of Korea. She speaks Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Tagalog, and holds advanced degrees from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She is married to a Foreign Service Officer and has two children.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange
Nicole Elkon joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Private Sector Exchange in September 2021. Until June 2021, Ms. Elkon was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Human Rights First, an independent advocacy organization focused on human rights and the rule of law. Prior to her position as COO, Ms. Elkon was a Senior Advisor at Results for America (RFA), a non-profit organization focused on advancing data-driven, evidence based public policy at all levels of government. She also served as Chief of Staff to the Assistant Secretary of ECA and was Director of the Office of Public Private Partnerships at ECA working to leverage strategic partnerships to enhance Administration foreign policy priorities.
From December 2001 through January 2003, Ms. Elkon was the Chief of Staff and Director of Communications of the 9/11 United Services Group (USG). Prior to joining the USG, Ms. Elkon was Vice President, International Communications and Strategic Planning at Merrill Lynch. She also worked in The White House as the Director for Planning for the National Security Council and Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Scheduling from 1995 to 1999.
Ms. Elkon is a native New Yorker. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.