Who Is… Samantha Power?

Samantha Power addresses reporters on evidence of Syrian chemical weapons attacks collected by U.N. investigators.-photo by: Stan Honda

Personal Background and Education

Ambassador Power was born in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of nine.  She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.  Power’s first profession was that of field journalist.  She covered the Yugoslav Wars and reported from Rwanda and Sudan.  Power was later the Founding Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1998 to 2002.  Here, she also became the Ann Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy.  She is married to Cass Sunstein, and they have two children.

Professional Experience

On August 2nd, 2013, Dr. Samantha Power became the acting U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN (she replaced Susan Elizabeth Rice as the nominee in June) and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.  Dr. Power’s previous posts under the Obama administration include Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council from 2009 to 2013.  During this time she also directed the fledgeling Atrocities Prevention Board. In these positions, Power directed efforts toward UN reform, advocated for LGBT and women’s rights,  addressed human trafficking and the safeguarding of religious minorities.

Now, in case you are feeling a bit winded just from reading a resume (I know I am), there is a reason why Power’s work, and resulting appointment as U.N. Ambassador, is so crucial to organizations like Living Ubuntu and the victimized and oppressed around the globe… her unwavering commitment to human rights, specifically in the Middle East, North Africa, Sudan and Burma.

Personal Achievements 

While the director of multilateral affairs, Power oversaw the actualization of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.  She later participated in the peaceful transition of Southern Sudan from an autonomous region to the independent nation of Republic of South Sudan in 2011.

To say the least, professor Power can be regarded as one of the anonymous soldiers or the midwives who contributed immensely to the peaceful birth of this newest country. She is not only a friend of South Sudan, but indeed a godmother for this nascent state. (src)

To add to this list of accomplishments, Power has written two books:  “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide” (2003) for which she won a Pulitzer Prize, and “Chasing the Flame: Sergio Viera de Mello and the Fight to Save the World” (2008).  She co-edited “The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World ”  with Derek Chollet (2011), and co-wrote “Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda” by Romeo Dallaire (2003).

Since her appointment, Power has been a key player in the steps taken in the Syrian crisis, regularly addressing the press on the use and investigation of chemical weapons and giving a speech at the Center for American Progress on the state of the situation and decisions made thus far.

True to form, Power began her tenure in August by taking questions from students at the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy in New York City, where she was speaking.  The students came from countries such as Tibet, Russia, China, Iran and Sudan.  Power addressed the students:

I’m a great believer … that U.S. foreign policy should be about individuals.  Every time we make decisions as a government we should think about people like you and the countries that you came from.


Alicia is a licensed Cytogenetic Technologist and blogger for Living Ubuntu currently working in San Diego County

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