Susan Rice biography
Susan E. Rice was born on November 17, 1964, in Washington, D.C. She went on to study at Stanford University and the University of Oxford in Oxfordshire with a focus on international affairs. She worked with President Clinton as part of the National Security Council and oversaw African affairs, later working at the Brookings Institution. In 2009, she joined President Obama’s Cabinet, receiving Senate confirmation to be U.N. ambassador.
U.N. Ambassador and foreign policy advisor Susan Elizabeth Rice was born in Washington, D.C., on November 17, 1964, to parents Lois Dickson Fitt and Emmett J. Rice. Rice's family is well renowned among the Washington elite; father, Emmett, is a Cornell University economics professor and former governor of the Federal Reserve System, while mother Lois is an education policy researcher and guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.
Growing up, Rice's family often spoke of politics and foreign policy at the dinner table. Her mother's job also brought notable figures through the house, including Madeline Albright, with whom Rice's mother served with on a local school board. Albright would later become a pivotal figure in Rice's personal and professional life.
Rice attended National Cathedral School, a prep academy in Washington, D.C. She excelled in academics, becoming her class valedictorian, and showed her aptitude in the politic realm as president of the student council. She also loved athletics, competing in three different sports, and became a star point guard on the basketball team.
After graduation, Rice attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. In college, she pushed herself to excel. She not only earned Departmental Honors and University Distinction, but also became a Harry S. Truman scholar, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and earned a Rhodes scholarship. She turned the heads of top administrators when she created a fund that withheld alumni donations until the university either stopped their investments in companies doing business in South Africa, or the country ended apartheid.
Interest in Diplomacy
After she received her bachelor's degree in history in 1986, she went on to attend University of Oxford in Oxfordshire, England. Here she earned her M.Phil and D.Phil in international relations, and wrote a dissertation that examined Rhodesia's transition from white rule. Her paper won the Royal Commonwealth Society's Walter Frewen Lord Prize for outstanding research in the field of Commonwealth History, as well as the Chatham House-British International Studies Association Prize for the most distinguished doctoral dissertation in the United Kingdom in the field of International Relations.
She finished her schooling in 1990, and started work as an international management consultant at McKinsey & Company in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. On Septmber 12, 1992, she married her Stanford romantic interest, Ian Cameron, who was working as a television producer in Toronto for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The couple lived in Canada until 1993, when Rice took a job with the National Security Council in Washington, D.C., under President Clinton.
She 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 says. "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, Madeline 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 advisor 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.
On January 22, 2009, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, making her the first African-American woman to be America’s ambassador to the U.N.
Rice and her husband have two children, and currently reside in Washington, D.C.