Jillian Burns joined the Foreign Service in 1993 and spent most of her career as a political officer working on the Middle East, particularly on Iran. Prior to retiring in Nov. 2014, she served as the Director of the Near East Affairs Office in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL). She served as Consul and Senior Civilian Representative in Herat, Afghanistan from Sept. 2012-Sept. 2013. For the first half of 2012, Ms. Burns did a detail assignment outside of the State Department, during which time she was the first National Intelligence Officer (NIO) for Iran at the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which falls under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). From 2008-2011, Ms. Burns worked in the Office of Policy Planning, where she was responsible for issues relating to Iran and also served six months as Acting Director of the Iran office in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA).
Ms. Burns previously served in the U.S. Consulate in Dubai, first as head of the political/economic section and Iran watcher, then as the first director of the Iran Regional Presence Office, opened in 2006. Prior to that, she served in NEA on the Syria desk and on the Iran desk and worked as a Watch Officer and Senior Watch Officer in the State Department Operations Center. She served as a Political Officer and a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan and started her Foreign Service career as a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Poland. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she taught communications at Georgia Southern University. She has been teaching at GWU since 2015. In addition, she helps lead simulation exercises for the U.S. government focused on security overseas and works part-time for the State Department.