Ambassador to India: Who Is Nancy Powell?

Sunday, January 29, 2012
Nancy Jo Powell, President Obama’s choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to India, has been a career member of the Foreign Service for 34 years and holds its highest rank, Career Ambassador. She has already served as ambassador to two other South Asian countries, Pakistan and Nepal, and also spent three years in India. President Obama announced his intent to nominate Powell on December 16, 2011. 
 
A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Powell was born in 1947, and earned a B.A. in History and Teaching at the University of Northern Iowa in 1970. From 1970 to 1977, she taught Social Studies at Dayton High School in Dayton, Iowa. She joined the Foreign Service in 1977 in Washington, D.C., as a Refugee Assistance Officer, and began her focus on South Asia with her first overseas assignment as consular officer at the embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 1980 to 1982. She continued as Nepal Desk Officer at the State Department from 1982 to 1984.
 
From 1985 to 1989, Powell served in Islamabad, Pakistan; and Ottawa, Canada. Posted to Africa for the first time in 1990, she served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the embassy in Lome, Togo, until 1992. She spent the next five years in South Asia, serving first as consul general at the consulate in Calcutta, India, from 1992 to 1993; as political counselor at the embassy in New Delhi, India, from 1993 to 1995; and finally as deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, from 1995 to 1997.
 
Powell’s career took an African turn when she was named ambassador to Uganda, where she served from 1997 to 1999. She then brought her expertise to bear as deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs from 1999 to 2001, and served as ambassador to Ghana from 2001 to 2002, which was her final African assignment. She returned to South Asia to serve as ambassador to Pakistan from 2002 to 2004.
 
Powell then took four straight stateside assignments, including principal deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs from 2004 to 2005 and acting assistant secretary for the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau in 2005. From 2006 to 2007, she served as the State Department’s Senior Coordinator for Avian Influenza and as National Intelligence Council Officer for South Asia. She returned to Nepal to serve as ambassador from August 2007 to August 2009. Back in Washington, Powell served as director general of the Foreign Service and director of Human Resources, from August 3, 2009 to December 2011.
 
Powell has studied French, Nepali, Hindi, and Urdu.
-Matt Bewig

Nancy J. Powell, Recent Interview (by Mikel Dunham, Nepal Watch) 

Comments

Rev. patrick l Burgess 2 years ago
i met ambassador powell while she served in islamabad pakistan. i was very impressed with her handle on things. she is a very intelligent individual who represents and serves the usa very well.

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