THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
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
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.