Ambassador to Hungary: Who Is Colleen Bell?
On November 6, 2013, Colleen Bradley Bell was nominated by President Barack Obama to be ambassador to Hungary. Obama renominated her on January 6, 2014, when the Senate did not act on her original nomination before the end of the year.
Bell was born on January 30, 1967, in Evanston, Illinois. Her mother, Sheila, was a partner in an interior design firm and her father, Edward, an attorney. Bell went to Sweet Briar College, where she graduated in 1989 with a degree in political science and economics. During her junior year, she studied at the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland.
In October 1991, she married Bradley Bell, a childhood friend. His parents were involved in show business, with his father William J. Bell a writer for and creator of soap operas, including “The Bold and the Beautiful,” for which Bradley Bell worked. That show was named in 2010 by the Guinness Book of Records as the most popular daytime soap opera.
Colleen Bell also worked on the production of “The Bold and the Beautiful” and is now listed as a producer of the show.
In addition to her production duties, Bell is active with non-profit organizations. She is on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and in August 2012 was named by Obama to be a trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. Bell has also been active in pushing for legislative action dealing with global climate change.
Bell was part of the California delegation to the 2012 Democratic Convention. But her main contribution that year was bundling contributions to Obama’s re-election effort. According to The New York Times, she raised more than $2.1 million during 2011 and 2012.
Bell ran into trouble during her nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 16, 2014. Bell had no experience with foreign service or special knowledge about the nation, Hungary, in which she had been nominated to serve. Apparently she had also spent little time studying about U.S.-Hungary relations.
When Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) asked her, “What are our strategic interests in Hungary?”, she could do no better than to give a superficial, general response: “our strategic interests, in terms of what are our key priorities in Hungary, I think our key priorities are to improve upon, as I mentioned, the security relationship and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, increase trade… to work collaboratively as NATO allies, to work to promote and protect the security, both—for both countries and for—and for the world.”
The Bells have four children, Bradley, Caroline, Charlotte and Oliver.
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