Susan Rice life and biography

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Susan Rice biography

Date of birth : 1964-11-17
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Washington, Columbia, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Politics
Last modified : 2010-06-24
Credited as : Politician, Ambassador of the United States, Obama administration

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Susan E. Rice (also known as: Susan Elizabeth Rice) born November 17, 1964 in Washington, District of Columbia, United States is an American politician and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

When U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Susan E. Rice as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in January of 2009, she became the first black woman and only the third black person to hold that position. Despite being just 45 years old, Rice brought with her a history of foreign affairs public service dating back to the Clinton administration. Soon after assuming office, the ambassador declared that she intended to focus on four main global issues: slowing climate change, decreasing intense poverty, deterring the spread of nuclear weapons, and supporting the United Nations' peacekeeping capabilities. Writing in the New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar noted that in Rice's opening statements as ambassador, "the most frequent terms she used seemed to be 'renew' and 'robust diplomacy.'"

Born on November 17, 1964, in Washington, D.C., Rice grew up amidst the world of government; her family often spoke of politics and foreign policy at the dinner table. Her father, Emmett Rice, was an economist who taught at Cornell and served as a governor of the Federal Reserve Board during the late 1970s and early 1980s; her mother, Lois Dickson Fitt, became a vice-president at the College Entrance Examination Board, the organization best known for administering the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). While Rice was still a child, her parents divorced. Her mother--a friend of future Clinton-era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright--later remarried an attorney with the Congressional Budget Office, Alfred Fitt. This marriage created a racially blended family, with the Jamaican-born Dickson along with the two Rice children joining the household of the white Fitt and his four children from a previous marriage. As a teenager, Rice attended the prestigious girls-only National Cathedral School, where she excelled both academically and on the basketball court.

After graduating at the top of her high school class, Rice enrolled at Stanford University to study history. In addition to earning academic honors, she demonstrated an early commitment to social justice by participating in student-led actions against South Africa's policy of apartheid. Rice graduated from Stanford in 1986, and then traveled to England to study on a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University's New College. There, she earned first a master's degree and then a doctorate in international relations, focusing specifically on the contemporary political challenges facing African nations.

Her education completed, Rice joined the Toronto office of global consulting firm McKinsey & Company as a management consultant in 1991. The following year, she wed television producer Ian Cameron; the two have since had two children. Her previous political involvement in then-Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis' unsuccessful 1988 presidential bid led to a 1993 offer to serve as director for international organizations and peacekeeping on freshly inaugurated President Bill Clinton's National Security Council (NSC). After two years in this role, Rice advanced to become senior director for African Affairs. In 1997, she was again promoted, this time to Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Madeleine Albright. Rice--then only 33 years old--was the youngest person to have ever held that post. As Assistant Secretary of State responsible for foreign relations with nearly 50 African nations, Rice participated in such activities as leading peace talks between warring Zambian and Congan factions, promoting direct food aid to Sudanese refugees, and attempting to prevent armed conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

When George W. Bush assumed the presidency in 2001, Rice left her position in the State department; subsequent National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is of no relation. Soon, the future ambassador joined the staff of the Brookings Institution--a Washington, D.C. public policy think-tank where her mother has also served as an educational expert--as a senior fellow. At Brookings, Rice continued to research and analyze African and other foreign affairs, including the Sudanese genocidal crisis in Darfur and the problems caused by widespread poverty, while speaking out against the foreign policy initiatives of the Bush Administration.

Rice became an early critic of that administration's handling of the Iraq War. Writing in the New York Times in 2003, she argued that planned reconstruction efforts left "no opportunity to improve Iraqis' capacity for standing the country on its own feet." In her 2004 Brookings Institution paper, "U.S. National Security Policy Post-9/11: Perils and Prospects," published in the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, Rice declared, "I think the state of our national security policy can be summed up in three words: the big dig [a reference to Boston's long-running and costly road improvement program]. It is a huge--and seemingly endless--mess of enormous expense. The United States and our national security policy are in a massive hole." She also acted as a foreign policy adviser to Senator John Kerry during his failed 2004 run for the White House.

Despite having close ties to the Clinton White House, Rice announced her support for the presidential candidacy of then-Senator Barack Obama well before that candidacy seemed likely to proceed to formal Democratic nomination, let alone electoral victory. In early 2007, she began acting as Obama's senior foreign policy adviser, helping him craft positions that stood in sharp opposition to those of the Bush Administration. Her vital role on the campaign team and on Obama's transition team led to immediate speculation upon Obama's election that she would be named to a major foreign policy position, such as deputy national security adviser, within the Obama Administration.

In fact, Obama announced his selection of Rice as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on December 1, 2008. Additionally, he returned this post to a Cabinet-level position, a status which it had not enjoyed during the preceding Bush administration. The following month, Rice easily won confirmation from the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and assumed office as ambassador on January 22, 2009. During Rice's confirmation hearing, according to reportage from the Washington Post Web site, Kerry described her as "exceptionally talented, fiercely conscientious, and one of the most dedicated public servants that I've met."

Practical breaks from Bush-era policies quickly became evident. In late March 2009, Rice and the Obama Administration began lobbying for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body largely dismissed by the preceding administration. The ambassador also worked to promote a multilateral foreign policy; writing on political blog Politics Daily, Alex Wagner quoted Rice as stating "let's remember the words of a former university president who once said, 'If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.' Well, if you think engagement is imperfect, try isolation."


Born Susan Elizabeth Rice, November 17, 1964, in Washington, DC; daughter of Emmett J. Rice (an economist) and Lois Dickson Fitt (an educational scholar); married Ian Cameron (a television producer), September 12, 1992; children: two. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1986; Oxford University, M.A., 1988, Ph.D., 1990.


Management consultant, McKinsey & Company, Toronto, Canada, 1991-93; director for international organizations and peacekeeping, Clinton Administration National Security Council, 1993-95, then senior director for African affairs, 1995-97; Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, U.S. State Department, 1997-2001; senior fellow, Brookings Institution, 2002-08; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, 2009--.

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