Susan C. Hovanec
public affairs officer

Susan C. Hovanec, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Information Agency and a senior adviser at the State Department’s Office of International Women’s Issues, died Oct. 10 at her home in Oxford, Md. She was 72.

The cause was lung cancer, said her daughter Stephanie Rose.

Mrs. Hovanec worked for USIA from 1976 until its merger with the State Department in 1999. Her early public affairs postings took her from Africa to Central America to Europe.

She was a public affairs adviser in Belgrade during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s and spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy in Zagreb, Croatia, in the early to mid-1990s.

She was deputy director of public diplomacy in the Bureau of South Asian Affairs from 2001 to 2003. She was then a senior adviser for press and public diplomacy in the Office of Women’s Issues until her retirement in 2006. She was a contractor for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration before leaving in 2007, said her daughter.

Susan Yvonne Crais was a New Orleans native and a 1958 graduate of what is now the Mississippi University for Women. She received a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University in 1979.

She helped establish the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award program and was awarded the Secretary of State’s Award for Public Outreach in 2005.

She was a Washington-based spokeswoman for the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council and worked with Afghan women who contributed to the documentary film “Afghanistan Unveiled.” She taught media and communications at the Washington Internship Institute.

Her marriages to Joseph Kirkby and Vincent Hovanec ended in divorce. Survivors include two daughters from her first marriage, Stephanie Rose of Alexandria and Leslie Kirkby of Pitman, N.J.; her mother, Yvonne Crais of New Orleans; two brothers; three sisters; and four grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough