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