Ambassador from Poland: Who Is Ryszard Schnepf?
Since September 2012, Poland has had a new man in Washington, DC, a former professor of Latin American history and culture who once taught college in the U.S. Ryszard Schnepf formally presented his credentials to President Obama on January 14, 2013, succeeding former ambassador Robert Kupiecki, who served from February 2008 to July 2012. Schnepf is concurrently accredited as ambassador to the Bahamas.
Born September 22, 1951, in Warsaw, Poland, Schnepf earned an M.A. in History at Warsaw University in 1974 and a PhD in History at the Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1979 with a dissertation on the history of Latin America.
Commencing his academic career, Schnepf was assistant professor of History in the Iberian Studies Department at Warsaw University from 1978 to 1991, rising to vice chair of the department. He also visited the U.S. during this period to take a visiting professorship lecturing in Polish history at Indiana University for the 1982-1983 academic year.
After the fall of the pro-Russian communist government in 1989, Schnepf became involved in politics and diplomacy, putting his knowledge of Latin America to good use by serving as ambassador of Poland to Uruguay and Paraguay from 1991 to 1996. Back in Warsaw, Schnepf served as deputy director and chief of protocol in the office of Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek from 1998 to 2000.
Schepf then served two consecutive ambassadorships, first as ambassador to Spain from 2000 to 2001, and then as ambassador to Costa Rica, resident in San José and concurrently accredited to Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador, from 2001 to 2004.
From 2005 to 2008, Schnepf served in a series of positions based in Warsaw, first, in 2005, as the Foreign Ministry's plenipotential representative for the organization of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Solidarność/Solidarity Labor Union movement that toppled the Cold War regime. Schnepf served as secretary of state for foreign relations and security in the office of Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz from October 31, 2005 to June 1, 2006, when he was forced to resign over comments he made in support of a controversial gas pipeline project connecting Russia with Germany, although some said that he was simply caught in an internal power struggle.
Schnepf’s exile from government did not last long, and he served from late 2006 to 2007 as the Foreign Ministry’s plenipotentiary for Global Threats, and as undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from November 2007 to November 2008.
In December 2008, Schnepf returned to serve a second stint as ambassador to Spain, resident in Madrid and this time concurrently accredited to the tiny Pyrenees principality of Andorra (pop.: 85,000), remaining until July 2012, when he was appointed to be the next ambassador to the U.S.
Ryszard Schnepf is married to Dorothy Wysocka-Schnepf, a prominent broadcast journalist in Poland, and they have a daughter, Antonia Felicidad. Schnepf speaks Polish, Russian, Spanish, English and Italian.
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