The Foreign Service Journal - September 2017
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Citizen Services cases. The assignment set up a career

path for me in South Asia and introduced me to several

of my mentors.


My understanding is that when you joined the

Service, you planned to be a political officer, but you

eventually became more interested in mission manage-

ment. What sparked that shift?


Amb. Arnie Raphel asked me to serve as acting

consul general in Lahore for the summer in 1988. It was

a game changer for me. We faced numerous security

threats in the aftermath of our shooting down of an

Iranian airliner, in addition to managing the summer

turnover, preparing for the new CG, hosting an inspection team

and reporting on Benazir Bhutto’s return to Lahore. I loved it and

realized for the first time I could realistically aspire to leadership



Three of your five

ambassadorships were in

South Asia: Pakistan, Nepal

and India. What set you on

that path?


My trip to Pakistan

in 1975 as a teacher really

sparked my interest in South Asia, which was further fueled by

my tour in Nepal from 1980 to 1982. I was able to travel in Nepal

and India at that time, and actively sought to return for multiple

assignments in the region.


You also served as U.S. ambassador to Uganda and Ghana,

among other African postings. What were some of the opportunities

and challenges you encountered working in South Asia and Africa?


I was fascinated by the history of both regions and by

their very vibrant cultures. Economic and political development

in post-colonial countries fascinated me, both as an analyst and

as a policymaker, as we worked in several countries to promote

transitions to democracy. It was rewarding to work in India and

Pakistan on issues such as nuclear proliferation, antiterrorism

and regional cooperation that have a significant impact on our

own security. I very much enjoyed the close camaraderie of these

posts. The shared hardships made for close friendships.


Who were some of the people you especially admired or

were inspired by during your Foreign Service career?


I was incredibly lucky to work with outstanding people

all through my career. Among the standouts are Ambassadors

Peter Burleigh, Arnie Raphel, Beth Jones and Robin Raphel. Each

of them combined area expertise and policymaking skills with

an active interest in the people working with them. They were

excellent advisers and very helpful as I navigated the assign-

ment process. Although I

never worked directly with

Ambassador Bill Burns,

I have great admiration

for his quiet, thoughtful

approach to the complex

issues facing our nation

and his consideration for

the people who worked with him.

Considering Human Resources:

Being Director General


During your tenure as Director General (2009-2012), State

launched Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Diplomacy 3.0 hiring initia-

tive. What was your role in that effort, and how did it go?


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. Principal Deputy Assistant

Secretary of State Steve Browning spearheaded the Bureau of

Human Resource’s efforts to remove the roadblocks. This took an

incredible amount of persuasion, organization and persistence.

My role was to ensure that the department’s senior leadership,

across several bureaus, understood that this was a priority and

that their support to remove the bottlenecks was required.


What other projects and challenges were at the top of the

list while you were DG?


Chief among our other goals was to ensure that the mis-

sions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan were fully staffed with

Mentoring needs to be a part of

the department ethos and can

be done at all levels.


Ambassador Nancy J. Powell presents her credentials to President of India

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on April 19, 2012.