Operations Center Deputy Director
U.S. Department of State
Shelby Smith-Wilson is the Operations Center Deputy Director of the State Department Operations Center, the Secretary of State‘s 24-7 communications and crisis hub based in Washington, D.C. She has 21 years of experience in U.S. diplomacy and national security strategy. Her overseas tours include Counselor for Political Affairs at U.S. Embassy Madrid, Counselor for Political Affairs at U.S. Embassy Panama, Deputy Political Counselor at U.S. Embassy Bogotá, as well as assignments in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Nairobi, Kenya. In Washington, Shelby has served as Senior Watch Officer, Bolivia Desk Officer, and Career Development Officer. Following an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela, as a Thomas Pickering Fellow, Shelby joined the Foreign Service in 1999.
Shelby has a Master’s degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish from Duke University. In 2019, she received a Master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College. She is the recipient of multiple State Department Meritorious Honor and Superior Honor Awards.
In 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo awarded her Operations Center team a Distinguished Honor Award (a distinction usually reserved for Ambassadors) for their exceptional service during the COVID-19 pandemic and complex diplomatic crises in the Middle East and Central Asia. In 2018, her diplomatic career was profiled in a Faces of Diplomacy exhibit sponsored by the National Museum of American Diplomacy, and in 2012, she was featured in Essence Magazine. When she’s not advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives, she enjoys spending quality time with her husband Vincent and their two children, Viola and Kristian.