On Sept. 11, 2001, Andrew Sisk was stationed in Islamabad, Pakistan, as part of the highly-selective U.S. Department of State Presidential Management Fellows Program.
Sisk cited the “tragic circumstances” he witnessed as the reason he decided to become a Foreign Service Officer.
Now, after more than 23 years working for the State Department, the last 17 of which were served overseas, Sisk has returned to his home state of North Carolina to become UNC and Duke University’s Diplomat in Residence for the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.
The Diplomat in Residence program is run by the U.S. Department of State to raise awareness of its Foreign and Civil Service career opportunities and paid internships and fellowships, Sisk said. As DIR for the Mid-Atlantic region, Sisk has responsibility for the Carolinas and the state of Virginia.
“With decades of experience in the U.S. Foreign Service at posts around the world and in Washington, D.C., Andy Sisk is a valuable resource for Tar Heels seeking careers in diplomacy,” Heather Ward, associate provost for global affairs, said in a statement.
As DIR at UNC, Sisk is involved with the Diplomacy Initiative, a program of the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs that prepares students to become future leaders by beginning to address global challenges, Ward said.
The initiative will be hosting a Diplomacy Week in mid-April where students can engage with leaders in international affairs and national security.
Emma Sampson, Sisk’s virtual student federal service intern, described Sisk as “very kind and outgoing,” and fit for a role that involves outreach to students.
“He’s also from North Carolina — he’s a first-generation college student,” she said. “So, I think he is very relatable to a lot of students.”
Sisk grew up in Lexington, a town just 20 miles south of Winston-Salem. Before his tenure as a Foreign Service Officer, Sisk wanted to be a journalist. He worked one summer for The Dispatch — a local newspaper in Lexington — covering county and local government.
“The opportunity to see the citizens and the people that show up for the various issues, that helps make me a better diplomat, a better representative overseas, because you’re often going to get questions about your country when you’re overseas," Sisk said.
He received his B.A. from Wake Forest University and Master of Public Administration from George Washington University. Prior to his appointment as UNC’s DIR, Sisk worked in embassies and consulates in Israel, Australia, Iraq, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
There is no perfect background for a career in Foreign and Civil Service, Sisk stressed. As a first-generation college student who worked at a fast food restaurant in high school and college, Sisk’s first application to the Presidential Management Fellows Program was denied.
“Sometimes people think that they need to have a certain background, like, ‘Oh, I didn’t study international relations, or I don’t know languages,’ but we have opportunities for all backgrounds,” he said.
In regards to returning to North Carolina, Sisk said he is most excited about being closer to his family.
While he considers federal service a “lifestyle,” Sisk also makes time to explore new communities, concerts and exhibits. Attending an S.G. Goodman concert at Cat’s Cradle in 2022 was his first time coming back to the venue in 20 years.
“After having been away for so long, I’m just trying to kind of reconnect and learn about the area via any cultural events, sporting events, things like that,” he said.
Sisk said community members with questions about working for the Department of State should reach out to him at DIRMidAtlantic@state.gov.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.