From 1941 to 1942, Helen Kitchen served as the first woman editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald. Following college, during World War II, she accepted a job with Reader’s Digest where she spent almost two years before a senior editor arranged for her appointment as a researcher for the Office of Strategic Services, leading her to Egypt and laying the groundwork for her career as an Africanist. She is now considered one of the United States’ most respected and widely published writers on African affairs.
Kitchen returned to Washington D.C. and served in the State Department from 1951-58 as special assistant to the director of research and analysis. In 1957, Kitchen received a Secretary of State’s Award for outstanding service. She has written eight books about Africa and published articles on African affairs and the U. S. Policy making process.
Helen joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. in 1981. She later became director of African Studies and consulted for the U.S. Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee to South Africa. In a review of her work published in the Journal of Modern African Studies, Lewis Nkosi wrote, “From the beginning, she has obviously understood her task as being to make some way through the sea of red herrings on which popular journalism feeds, remaining deeply conscious always of the fact that in Africa there are no easy answers.”