February 11, 2022
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States’ representative to the United Nations, will be the featured speaker at SIPA’s graduation ceremony on May 15, 2022, Interim Dean Thomas J. Christensen announced this week.

A seasoned diplomat with 35 years of experience in the U.S. Foreign Service, Thomas-Greenfield was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February 2021. As U.S. ambassador, she also sits on the UN Security Council.

From 2013 to 2017 Thomas-Greenfield served as assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, leading the development and management of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Before that she was the director general of the Foreign Service and director of human resources, overseeing the State Department’s 70,000-person workforce. Her career in the Foreign Service also included an ambassadorship to Liberia and postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica, among other roles.

“We are honored that Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield accepted our invitation, and we are excited to welcome her to SIPA and Columbia this spring to address our 2022 graduates and share insights from her broad-ranging career,” Christensen wrote in a letter to the SIPA community.

After Thomas-Greenfield retired from the Foreign Service in 2017, she worked in the private sector and in academia. She led the Africa practice at Albright Stonebridge Group and, beginning in fall 2017, served for two years as the inaugural distinguished fellow in Africa Studies at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Thomas-Greenfield holds a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees.

In making the announcement, Christensen thanked SIPA students, including leaders of the SIPASA student government, for their input on the selection.

This year’s graduation ceremony will be conducted in person—on Columbia’s Morningside campus—for the first time since 2019.