At a Glance
- Career History:
Foreign Service Officer,
- Alma Mater: University of Texas-Austin, M.P.A., 1999
- DC Office: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, (202) 712-1674
Path To Power
In 1999, McGowan received her MPA from the University of Texas-Austin's LBJ School of International Affairs. While there, she worked with another graduate student on a project to help modernize the Guatemalan Congress which was funded by a USAID grant.
After receiving her degree, McGowan spent roughly ten years as a foreign service officer (FSO) in the State Department. Her career rarely brought her into contact with the media. It wasn't until the tragic event of her fiancee's murder in 2005 that McGowan was quoted in the international press.
In a 2007 New York Times op-ed, McGowan called attention to the "disaster" of security in Afghanistan at the time, and the increase in attacks on foreign-aid workers and journalists as an insurgent strategy.
She criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai for agreeing to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for an abducted Italian reporter, an act which she said illustrated the weakness of the Karzai government and the increasing strength of the Taliban. She said the prisoner swap "effectively declares open season" on foreign civilians working outside of Kabul.
McGowan's decade at State has given her close ties to many in the diplomatic world. She is reportedly close to career diplomat and academic Zalmay Kalilzad, having worked as his special assistant while he served as US ambassador to Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004.
In 2010 McGowan was brought over to USAID by Rajiv Shah, and she now works as a senior analyst on Afghanistan and Pakistan under deputy assistant administrator for AfPak policy Alex Their.