Ambassador to Tanzania: Who is Alfonso Lenhardt?

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Alfonso Lenhardt lacks in diplomatic experience, he makes up for in knowledge of military affairs and security, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have as the next ambassador to Tanzania. In 1998 the American embassy in Dar es Salaam was the target of a car bombing by Islamic terrorists that killed eleven people, and Lenhardt is more than familiar with handling high-level security in the wake of a major terrorist attack.

Lenhardt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska, a Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University, and a master’s in the administration of justice from Wichita State University. His other educational training includes graduating from the FBI National Academy, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Supervisors’ program, and The National War College.
For most of his professional life Lenhardt was an officer in the U.S. Army. His 31-year career in the service included posts as chief of staff/executive assistant to the director for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, as Director of Personnel and Installation Management for the largest unit in the U.S. Army, as head of the military police, and finally as commanding general of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command. Lenhardt retired from the Army in August 1997 as a major general.
After leaving the Army he became executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Council on Foundations, a non-profit group of foundations and philanthropic organizations.
Then, on September 4, 2001, he was appointed the 36th Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American to serve as an officer of Congress. In this capacity he oversaw a staff of 826 employees and a $2 million budget and was responsible not only for security to protect the Senate, but also for telecommunications, printing and other functions that the House shares with the upper house of Congress.
Lenhardt’s timing in becoming the Senate’s sergeant at arms meant he came aboard only a week before the September 11 terrorist attacks. Subsequently, he had to manage the Senate’s response to beefing up security in the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon assaults, as well as the October 2001 anthrax attack in the Hart Senate Office Building. Lenhardt was also on watch when a little publicized, but embarrassing episode occurred with the Senate’s internal television system, known as Channel 5. One morning senators and aides tuned in and saw a pornographic movie playing on the closed network. An investigation discovered that an employee in the Senate Recording Studio had been dubbing a porn tape on taxpayer time and had inadvertently hit the wrong switch.
In 2003 Lenhardt left the Senate to become senior vice president for government relations for the Shaw Group, Inc., a global firm that works on environmental and infrastructure projects, primarily in the field of energy, for government and private sector clients. Among its overseas work was a $75 million contract to renovate the Al Kasik Military Base in Iraq. Lenhardt was responsible for successfully lobbying to improve the company’s contracting opportunities with federal, state and local government agencies, and elevating its profile with members of Congress.
The following year, Lenhardt moved to the National Crime Prevention Council to become president and CEO of the organization best known for its character, McGruff the Crime Dog.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
NCPC President to Be Nominated as Ambassador (National Crime Prevention Council)


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