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Susan Rice is a U.S. Cabinet member with the Obama administration who is the country's ambassador to the United Nations.
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The couple lived in Canada until 1993, when Rice took a job with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., under President Clinton.
Rice began work as the director of international organizations and peacekeeping for the NSC, where she had what she calls her "most searing experience" when she visited Rwanda during what was later classified as a genocide. "I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing corpses outside and inside a church,
" she said. "It was the most horrible thing I've ever seen. It makes you mad. It makes you determined. It makes you know that even if you're the last lone voice and you believe you're right, it is worth every bit of energy you can throw into it." She took the lessons learned from her peacekeeping position to a new post as special assistant to the president and senior director for African affairs in 1995.
She quickly advanced ahead of her peers and veteran officials when her friend and mentor, Madeleine Albright, recommended Rice for the post of assistant secretary for African affairs in 1997. With her appointment, she became one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state ever. Many elder politicians disagreed with placing a young woman in the position, arguing that she would be unable to deal with older, male leaders. But Rice developed a reputation for her direct, plainspoken opinions, and an ability to bring people to her side of the table. "They have no choice but to deal with me on professional terms. I represent the United States of America," she says. "Yeah, they may do a double take, but then they have to listen to what you say, how you say it and what you do about what you say."
During her tenure in this post, she also became well acquainted with the actions of the extremist group, Al Qaeda; she was the top diplomat for African issues during the 1998 terrorist bombings of embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.
Her involvement and rise into politics mirrored that of Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state under President George W. Bush. The two are both female, African-American, foreign policy experts who have ties to Stanford University. However, the two are not related. The mix-up has happened so often that Democrats have a saying about the confusion: "They've got their Rice, and we've got ours."
Rice left the public sector in 2002 to become a senior fellow in foreign policy for the Brookings Institute, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to conduct independent research and provide recommendations to the government based on their findings. As a fellow, Rice specialized in research on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, as well as the implications of global poverty and transnational security threats.
Rice took leave from Brookings in 2008, to become the senior foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. After Obama's successful election in November of 2008, Rice was nominated to be the U.N. Ambassador for the United States.
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