Our Leadership

Michelle Bernier-Toth

Special Advisor for Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Since January 2020, Michelle Bernier-Toth has served as Special Advisor for Children’s Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. In that role, she develops and implements strategies in international diplomacy to resolve emerging problems related to intercountry adoptions and international parental child abduction. Ms. Bernier-Toth is a member of the Senior Executive Service and previously served as the Managing Director for Overseas Citizens Services; as Director of the Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management; and as Director of the Office of Children’s Issues. Ms. Bernier-Toth joined the Department of State in 1987 and served foreign service tours in Damascus, Syria; Doha, Qatar; and Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. before returning to Washington D.C. and converting to civil service in 2003.

Ms. Bernier-Toth graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s in Near Eastern Languages and Literature, and holds a Master’s in Arab Studies from Georgetown University. She has three adult children of whom she is very proud.


Steve Anderson
Acting Director
Office of Children's Issues

Steven Anderson is the Acting Director of the Office of Children's Affairs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

He joined the Foreign Service in 2006. He has served overseas in Islamabad, Pakistan; Dublin, Ireland; Manila, Philippines; and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He has also worked in several offices in Washington. He was a Management Analyst in the 1CA office. He covered Western Europe and Canada for the Office of the Executive Director for the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Previously, he was Branch Chief for Western Hemisphere Abductions in the Office of Children's Issues.

Steven grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma and studied International Relations at the University of Oklahoma. Steven's wife, Georgina Allen, works at USAID.  They have a dog named Juno and love to travel.

Ambassador Suzanne Lawrence

Marisa Light
Chief, Adoption Oversight Division

Marisa Light has served as the Chief of the Adoption Oversight Division in the Office of Children's Issues since May 2020. She comes to this position with more than 20 years of experience advancing protections for vulnerable children, adults, and families domestically and abroad, including fifteen years of federal civil service across three agencies. She has worked in the fields of human trafficking of children and adults, children in the worst forms of child labor, protection for separated or unaccompanied children, international human rights law, and issues of both forced and voluntary migration. Ms. Light holds a BA in Political Science from Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH), and a MS in Foreign Service and Certificate in Refugees and Humanitarian Emergencies from Georgetown University (Washington, DC). A DC-area resident for more than 20 years, Ms. Light has also lived abroad in Africa, Europe, and Latin America. 

Tristan Spiceland
Chief, Bilateral Engagement Division 

Tristan Spiceland is Acting Division Chief for Adoptions Bilateral Engagement in the Office of Children's Issues. Tristan joined the Department in 2006 and has served as an FSO in five overseas posts including Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Quito, Santiago, and Santo Domingo. He has worked in the Office of Children’s Issues since 2019; immediately prior to CI he worked in WHA/PPC as a policy advisor. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkmenistan from 1996 to 1998. He and his wife Carolyn Ho live with their two children in Arlington, VA.

Last Updated: March 30, 2022