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Monday, January 25, 2021

UW alumna nominated as U.S. ambassador to UN

UW-Madison alumna Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield was nominated by President-elect Joe Biden Monday to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. 

Thomas-Greenfield earned her master’s degree in political science from UW-Madison in 1975. According to UW-Madison Director of News and Media Relations Meredith McGlone, Thomas-Greenfield received an honorary degree from the university in 2018 and has recently engaged in campus activity. 

“Raised in segregated Louisiana, she follows in a tradition of barrier-breaking African-American diplomats who have dedicated their lives to public service, and brings critical perspective to a role that is more important — and more necessary — than ever before,” reads Thomas-Greenfield’s biography from the Biden campaign. “As UN Ambassador, Linda will renew our relationships with our friends and allies, help revitalize our diplomatic corps and restore America’s reputation on the world stage.”

Her activity on campus, specifically that with the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), did not go unacknowledged in a congratulatory tweet from the university.

“We’re grateful for @LindaT_G’s recent work on campus with the Young African Leaders Initiative and other programs,” UW-Madison says.

In 2017, Thomas-Greenfield was featured in “Africa Matters: a discussion of U.S.-Africa relations” — a public event hosted by the UW-Madison African Studies Program.

Her presentation was directed to UW-Madison faculty, students and alumni in addition to 25 Mandela Washington Fellows who were visiting campus at the time. The Mandela Washington Fellowship — the YALI flagship program — allows for “young African leaders” to come to the United States to gain opportunities and experience in both leadership and academics.

The International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) is a nonprofit organization assisting execution of the Mandela Washington Fellowship. By being a sub-grantee of IREX, UW-Madison has helped with the academic portion of the Fellowship in the U.S.  

“Your talent, drive and dedication will change your countries for the better,” Thomas-Greenfield said in her 2017 presentation. “I put a burden on their shoulders that they are Africa’s future. We will be depending on them to find the answers.”

Later that summer, Thomas-Greenfield received a nomination for an honorary degree from the UW-Madison African Studies Program.

Thomas-Greenfield expressed her gratitude for the nomination via Twitter on Oct. 23 and received many congratulatory messages from other users.

“I’ve had the privilege to build relationships with leaders around the world for the past thirty-five years,” she wrote. “As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I’ll work to restore America’s standing in the world and renew relationships with our allies. Blessed for this opportunity.”

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