Holly Kirking Loomis (BA ‘02) Named Keynote Speaker for Undergrad Commencement

Holly Kirking Loomis

University of Minnesota alum Holly Kirking Loomis is a senior U.S. diplomat who has served in China, Brazil, the Indo-Pacific, and throughout Latin America. Kirking Loomis speaks four languages and is known for leading high performing foreign policy teams through tumultuous times.  

Acting as the State Department’s climate change director from 2017-2020, she led American climate change negotiations related to the Paris Agreement, shipping, aviation, science, adaptation, finance, and energy. As deputy ambassador in the Marshall Islands, she orchestrated the U.S. response to a national health emergency and hosted the first Secretary of State visit to that country in nearly 30 years. While the world watched Kabul fall to the Taliban in August 2021, she returned to her Wisconsin hometown to receive and resettle 13,000 Afghan evacuees.  

The courageous women and men she met at Fort McCoy, WI inspired her to continue forging Afghanistan policy, first from Georgetown University and currently as a Senior Advisor for the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghan Women, Girls, and Human Rights. Committed to building institutions, caring for people, and conserving nature, Kirking Loomis has served on the boards of the Green Climate Fund, American Foreign Service Association, American School of Brasilia, and a Wisconsin outdoor ministry and conservation organization.  

In 2023, she was recommended for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Kirking Loomis holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts (summa cum laude, 2002) and a masters in global policy from Tufts University. Of all the titles she has held, the most important is mother to her four sons. She is married to Landon Loomis and they call New Orleans and Wisconsin home.

What an honor to come home to the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts to celebrate our 2024 graduates! CLA graduates are independent and original thinkers who become innovators in our chosen fields and strive to create meaningful personal and professional lives. As an American diplomat leading through an era of accelerating change within and among countries, I turn to my liberal arts training to learn from and connect to the past, to understand the evolution of human stories and constructs, and to appreciate what makes us human. We are open-eyed and open-minded as we aspire to embody and build the community and world we envision, to boldly shape outcomes. I look forward to sharing a few thoughts and many congratulations with the class of 2024. 

Holly Kirking Loomis


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