THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2017 31 FOCUS ON EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE & CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT The recipient of AFSA’s 2017 Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award talks with the FSJ about her journey from Midwestern social studies teacher to diplomatic leader. Leader, Mentor, Diplomat AmbassadorNancy J. Powell A mbassador Nancy J. Powell received the American Foreign Service Associa- tion’s 2017 Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award in rec- ognition of her distinguished Foreign Service career and enduring devotion to diplomacy at a June 20 ceremony in the State Department’s Dean Ache- son Auditorium. (For coverage of the ceremony, see AFSA News, page 62.) The 23rd recipient of this award and the fourth woman to be honored, Amb. Powell was born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, in 1947. She earned her bachelor’s degree in history and teaching from the University of Northern Iowa in 1970, and taught high school social studies in Dayton, Iowa, before joining the Foreign Service in 1977. Throughout her 37-year diplomatic career and into retirement, Amb. Powell never stopped learning and taking on new chal- lenges. A five-time ambassador and the first female U.S. ambas- sador to India, she has served in a variety of high-level positions both overseas and in Washington, D.C., and has also devoted a significant amount of her time, talent and energy to mentoring future leaders of the Foreign Service. Amb. Powell’s career centered on South Asia and Africa. Her early overseas assignments to Ottawa and then Kathmandu were followed by a two-year stint (1982-1984) on the Nepal desk in Washington, D.C. She also served as a refugee assistance officer and political officer for internal politics and India-Pakistan rela- tions in Lahore. Then followed assignments as deputy chief of mission in Lomé (1990-1992), consul general in Kolkata (1992- 1993), political counselor in New Delhi (1993-1995) and deputy chief of mission in Dhaka (1995-1997). President William J. Clinton appointed her U.S. ambassador to Uganda in 1997, and in 1999 she became principal deputy assis- tant secretary of State (PDAS) for African affairs, rising to acting assistant secretary of State for African affairs in 2001. President George W. Bush named her U.S. ambassador to Ghana in July 2001 and to Pakistan in August 2002, where she served until 2004. Amb. Powell then returned to Washington, D.C., as PDAS and acting assistant secretary of State for legislative affairs (2004- 2005), becoming acting assistant secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in 2005.