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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

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SEPTEMBER 2017

33

ence accounts for your dedication to mentoring Foreign Service

officers?

NJP:

I’m sure it played a part, for I will always be a teacher at

heart; but the real motivation came from people like Ambassa-

dors Peter Burleigh, (the late) Arnie Raphel and Beth Jones, who

not only helped me and many others, but also encouraged us to

embrace mentoring as part of being a Foreign Service officer. I

think my teaching helped me in other ways in the Foreign Ser-

vice. With five classes to prepare for each day, I learned to man-

age my time and plan ahead. And, standing in front of restless

teenagers who wanted to be anywhere but social studies class

taught me about leadership, creativity and presence.

FSJ:

What inspired you to pursue a career in diplomacy?

NJP:

I wanted to be a teacher from the time I started kinder-

garten. I think I knew frommy elementary teachers that it was

a role I could assume as a female, plus I loved school. I enjoyed

teaching, but there were few opportunities to advance in

secondary education for women at that time in Iowa. Women

were elementary principals, and social studies teachers tended

to be male coaches. I didn’t know about the Foreign Service until

I participated in a U.S. government-sponsored program for sec-

ondary teachers in Pakistan in 1975.

We met FSOs at the

embassy and consulates,

who could not have been

better recruiters as they

described their careers.

One of them gave me the

application for the written

test, which I took in 1975. I

was initially most inter-

ested in the “Foreign” part

of the Foreign Service. It

saw it as an opportunity to

see the world, to live in different cultures and to do interesting

work, even if I wasn’t completely sure what that work would be.

FSJ:

What year did you join the Foreign Service? How did you

find the examination and hiring process? How many women were

in your A-100 class?

NJP:

I was part of the 129th class, which started in January

1977, with five women among the 37 members. Three of the

women left the Service fairly quickly, but Michele Bond and

I remained. As a teacher, I was fascinated by the examination

process and how it was being used to evaluate candidates. Like

everyone else, I thought the hiring process took far too long, but

now know I was one of the lucky ones who went through quite

quickly.

Five-Time

Ambassador

FSJ:

What were your first

two overseas postings? Were

they a good introduction

to the Service for you? If so,

how?

NJP:

I joined the Foreign

Service and went all the way

to Ottawa. It turned out to

be an excellent introduc-

tion as I rotated through

the consular, political and economic sections. It allowed me to

learn about the Foreign Service culture in a familiar environ-

ment. My second assignment was as vice consul in Kathmandu,

Nepal. Later, the court reviewing the women’s class action suit

[filed by FSO Alison Palmer in 1976 and charging discrimina-

tion in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act] determined there

had been a pattern of assigning female political-coned officers

to second consular tours. However, Kathmandu was an excellent

assignment and proved extremely important for my career. I was

a member of the country team and led a consular section with

many unusual challenges as we dealt primarily with American

Diplomacy 3.0 had started

before I became DG, but

it faced serious problems

of coordinating recruiting,

on-boarding, assigning and

training the new hires.

Ambassador Nancy Powell with A-100 classmates at the AFSA

awards ceremony. From left: Ambassador (ret.) Michele Bond,

Ambassador (ret.) Lino Gutierrez, Amb. Powell, and Ambassador

(ret.) Jimmy Kolker.

AFSA/SHAWNDORMAN