U.S. Ambassador to Kenya: Who Is Robert Godec?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

President Barack Obama has nominated career diplomat Robert F. Godec to be the next ambassador to the East African nation of Kenya. If confirmed, Godec, who has served as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Nairobi since August 27, would succeed political appointee Scott Gration, who resigned from his position last June over “differences in leadership styles and priorities with Washington.” 


Born circa 1957 to Robert F. Godec and Nancy (Dietrich) Godec, Godec graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia, in 1975. He went on to earn a B.A. in Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, where he was associate news editor on the student newspaper The Daily Cavalier, and an M.A. in International Relations at Yale University.


A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, Godec joined the State Department in 1985. Now focused on Africa and the Middle East, earlier in his career Godec worked on relations with Southeast Asia, serving as director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 1992 to 1994, and as assistant office director for Thailand and Burma in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from 1994 to 1996.


Godec has served in Kenya once before, as economic counselor at the embassy in Nairobi from 1996 to 1999, followed by additional African experience as minister counselor for Economic Affairs at the embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, from 1999 to 2002, concurrently filling the post of acting deputy chief of mission in 2002. In Washington, Godec served as deputy coordinator for the Transition in Iraq from 2004 to 2005, and as deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006.


From 2006 to 2009, Godec was the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia, his first ambassadorship. According to diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks, Godec was quite critical of the regime of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, describing his “sclerotic regime,” as a “police state” mired in corruption, an evaluation that was much-appreciated by pro-democracy forces in Tunisia when it was made public. Back in Washington, Godec served as principal deputy coordinator for Counterterrorism at the State Department from 2009 to 2012.


Godec speaks French and German, although neither of these will be especially helpful in Kenya, a former British colony. He has been married to Lori G. Magnusson since May 1986.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Official Biography

Democratic Movements (by Steve Coll, New Yorker)


Kayne Odida Mbego 6 years ago
Amb Godec is facing a huge backlash from Kenya's opposition for what they term open preference for the illegitimate incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. His stance on the political crisis is fast eroding the public image the US has enjoyed here for a long time as pro-democracy and good governance. Despite the sham elections and the subsequent coronation of Uhuru Kenyatta as president, majority of opposition supporters have openly refused to recognize Uhuru's presidency. During the electioneering period, Godec seemed to appreciate that there was a problem with the elections, especially on open threats to the judiciary, police brutality, the death of IEBC IT Chief a week to elections, unilateral changes to electoral laws by the incumbent midway through elections. In fact, he is on record on the need for proper dialogue on the electoral system. He seems to have changed tune, and currently openly supporting the incumbent's presidency, something being likened to US growing appetite for Kenya's oil and less interest in its democracy and respect for human rights. Godec needs to be advised before he causes a permanent damage to Kenya's social fabric through a partisan approach to clearly emotive and divisive issues.
Karo Chakhlasyan 6 years ago
Hi, Salim Lone has expressed his great concerns regarding the potential fall of a democratic and free Kenya due to the prolonged election process. Please get higher level help to resolve this issue. I would like for Ambassador Godec to ask for additional support from the United States government in order to intervene during this time of potential chaos. Please let me know how I can help Here's an article for reference:http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/20/africa/kenya-election-commission-official/index.html
Dr. Mary Ngunyi Muiruri 7 years ago
Kenya is privileged to have Ambassador Godec as the Head of US Mission in Kenya. He will be remembered as one of the greatest Amaasadors to Kenya. I served with him in the late 90s under Vice President Al Gore's Leland Initiative in Kenya, and the Liberalization of the telecom sector. By far Ambassador Godec is one of the brilliant humble brains in the Foreign Service! Kudos Balozi Godec! Hope you will make Kenya your second home, following the footsteps of your predecessors!
Eric Nyaga 9 years ago
It was such a pleasure to meet you H.E. at the Mindspeak Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel hosted by Aly Khan Satchu. Your speech was amazing.
Jennie Leon-Guerrero 10 years ago
I was secretary in the econ section at Embassy Nairobi when R. Godec was head honcho. Congratulations on your appointment and having Lori as Mrs. Ambassador makes me realize you had this planned a long time ago!! Congratulations to her also!! And by the way, the official photo is definitely not how I recall your face - you were seldom startled by ANYTHING but having a photo taken must have been almost too much!!! Jennie
matejka 10 years ago
Im traveling often to Kenya ......i found out some info about you as a ambassador in Kenya.....Your surname Godec is tipical slovene name.Du you have Slovene roots? Greetings from Slovenia! matejka belle
Gail Wennemer 11 years ago
Congratulations, I am sorry I didn't get to talk to you and Lori before you left. Gail

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