Biographies of the Secretaries of State: Condoleezza Rice (1954–)


Condoleezza Rice was nominated for Secretary of State by George W. Bush on November 14, 2004, and assumed office on January 26, 2005. She served for four years, leaving the position on January 20, 2009. She was the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State.

Condoleezza Rice, 66th Secretary of State

Rise to Prominence

Rice was born on November 14, 1954, in Birmingham, Alabama. She earned her bachelor of arts in political science in 1974 from the University of Denver, her master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and her doctorate in political science from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981.

After her graduation, Rice accepted a position at Stanford University as a professor of political science. In 1987 she served as an advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in 1989 was appointed director of Soviet and East European Affairs on the National Security Council.

Rice returned to Stanford in 1991 and from 1993 until 1999 she served as Stanford's Provost.

In 2001 she was appointed National Security Advisor by President George W. Bush, and succeeded Colin Powell as Secretary of State in 2005.

Influence on U.S. Diplomacy

As Secretary of State, Rice supported the expansion of democratic governments, and championed the idea of "Transformational Diplomacy," which sought to redistribute U.S. diplomats to areas of severe social and political trouble, address such issues as disease, drug smuggling and human trafficking, and reemphasize aid through the creation of the position of Director of Foreign Assistance.

Rice helped successfully negotiate several agreements in the Middle East, including Israeli withdrawal from and the opening of the Gaza border crossings in 2005 and the August 14, 2006 ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. Rice organized the Annapolis Conference of November 27, 2007, which focused on finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Rice also worked actively to improve human rights issues in Iran and supported the passage of a United Nations Security Council Resolution for sanctions against the country unless its uranium enrichment program was curtailed.

Another major concern for Rice was North Korea's nuclear program, and its subsequent testing of a nuclear weapon. Rice was firmly against holding bilateral talks with North Korea, although she welcomed their participation in the Six Party Talks between China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States.

In October 2008, one of Rice's most successful negotiations came to fruition, with the signing of the U.S.-India Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (123 Agreement), which would allow civil nuclear trade between the two countries.

Shortly after her term as Secretary of State ended in January 2009, she announced plans to write a book about her diplomatic career. Rice was succeeded as Secretary of State by former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.