The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

14 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL In graduate school at Southern University in 1996, I watched to see if the former chair- man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would run for president. A year later, when I joined the State Depart- ment as a presidential management intern, a mentor gave me Colin Powell’s My American Journey (Random House, 1995) so I would become a voracious reader and get a better understanding of how leaders became leaders. She suc- ceeded on both counts. I read it from cover to cover within weeks, along with other books on Powell. I was impressed to find that many of the life lessons and values I was taught in my household and community, Powell had received during his upbringing. “Never forget where you came from.” “Don’t shame this family.” “Don’t take shortcuts in life.” “There is no substitute for hard work.” LETTERS-PLUS My Role Model, Guiding Light and North Star for 30 Years BY STACY D. WILLIAMS RESPONSE TO JANUARY-FEBRUARY APPRECIATION, “COLIN POWELL (1937–2021): LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP” Stacy D. Williams, deputy director in the Office of Haitian Affairs, is chair of the Diversity Council in the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He joined the State Department as a presidential management intern in 1997 and has held Civil Service assignments in the Office of the Inspector General, the Under Secretary for Management’s Office, the Office of the Director General, the Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the U.S. Mission to the Organi- zation of American States and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He has also served as president of the Thursday Luncheon Group. The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Department of State or the U.S. government. O n Oct. 18, I learned sadly that the man I admired and sought to emulate over 30 years had died. Colin L. Powell was a driv- ing force for much of my adult life. I was fortunate over three decades to have my own Master Class through the words, deeds and expe- riences of General Powell, as he pre- ferred to be called, the man who created “Powell’s 13 Rules” and is widely quoted as saying: “It is not where you start, but where you finish.” The beginning for me was in Shreve- port, Louisiana. At the ripe old age of 18, I was scanning television channels one day and came across an African American standing tall in a military uniform, brief- ing the press on a war that was underway in the Middle East. He was poised and controlled the room. Through my mother’s subscriptions to Ebony and Jet magazines, I subsequently learned that was General Colin L. Powell. The Nation’s Top Diplomat Then in 2000, President-elect George W. Bush named Colin Powell Secretary of State, the first African American to serve as the nation’s top diplomat. Talk about exhilaration and instant jubilation! My career path quickly became almost spiritual. It felt like someone up above was charting a path specifically for me that would now include the one person I revered most. Early on in his tenure as Secre- tary, Powell met with members of the Thursday Luncheon Group. Imagine my excitement in serving on the planning committee for the event, beaming with PJFMILITARYCOLLECTION/ALAMY Secretary of State Colin Powell walks with Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono (on Powell’s immediate left) in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, on Jan. 5, 2005, days after the deadly tsunami struck.