Steven McGann

Ambassador C. Steven McGann (Steven), 71, of Arlington, Virginia passed away on May 24, 2023, at his home, bringing to a close a life dedicated to family, the pursuit of knowledge, and public service.

Steven was born on June 28, 1951, in Harlem, New York to Evangeline Marshburn McGann and Clarence Duke McGann. After spending his early years exploring and absorbing the vibrant culture of New York City, he then made the first of many trips across the country and around the world when he relocated with his mother to Los Angeles, California. There he completed his schooling at Mount Carmel High School.


In 1978, Steven married Doris Bolen in Mount Holly, New Jersey and welcomed sons Leyland Seth McGann (1978) and Steven Bryce McGann (1981–2006). The marriage ended in divorce. In 1989, he married Bertra Bradford in Austin, Texas, and welcomed daughter Bethany Lauren McGann (1990), son Bradford Warren McGann (1992), and son Benjamin Vance Stevenson McGann (1995).

Guided by a strong intellect and keen interest in international affairs, Steven earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Claremont McKenna College (CMC) in 1973 and pursued graduate studies in comparative government at Cornell University from 1975 to 1978. He would also go on to earn a Master of Science from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. In 2015, Steven joined the Board of Trustees of Claremont McKenna College, bringing his academic endeavors full circle as he gave back to the next generation of political science students through his support of the CMC Washington Program.

In 1978, Steven joined the United States Foreign Service, marking the start of what would be a long and decorated career devoted to public service. During his forty-year career, Steven traveled to every corner of the world and became a Senior Foreign Service member with the rank of Minister-Counselor.

In 2008, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve as Ambassador to Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, The Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu, guiding United States policy in the Pacific from 2008 to 2011. He also served as Deputy Commandant and International Affairs Adviser of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at the National Defense University and was the first Vice Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs at the National Defense University.

Steven’s commitment to public service and drive to mentor the next generation of foreign affairs professionals continued after his retirement from the Foreign Service. Steven served on numerous boards and advisory committees, including as Co-Chair of the Women’s Refugee Commission, President of the Association of Black American Ambassadors, and Advisor on the Council of Advisors for Black Professionals in International Affairs. He also founded The Stevenson Group, an international consulting firm specializing in providing strategic counsel to clients, and was an affiliate of the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Center for Australian, New Zealand and Pacific Studies, at Georgetown University. On February 2, 2023, Steven was honored by the Thursday Luncheon Group with the Pioneer Award in recognition of his support, advocacy for, and mentorship of African American foreign affairs professionals.

In his quieter moments, Steven was a classic car enthusiast and a jazz aficionado. He will forever be a child of New York City and a citizen of the world. He made friends everywhere he went, and nurtured a network that spans geographies and generations. He is survived by his wife, Bertra Bradford McGann, his mother, Evangeline Marshburn Hutson, and his children, Leyland Seth McGann, Bethany Lauren McGann, Bradford Warren McGann, and Benjamin Vance Stevenson McGann.

A Visitation will be held on Sunday, June 4th from 5:00-7:00 PM at Murphy Funeral Home, located at 4510 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22203. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Monday, June 5th at 10:00 AM at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, located at 3305 Glen Carlyn Rd, Falls Church, VA 22041. Committal will immediately follow the Funeral Mass at Columbia Gardens Cemetery, 3411 Arlington Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 with a Repast afterward in the cemetery’s event center.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations in Steven’s memory to The Arc of Northern Virginia:

A celebration of Steven’s life and recognition of his legacy will be held later in the summer.