Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield visits campus to speak

Phil Dimon, son of Scoot Dimon, introduced Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield before her speech here at Westminster on Nov. 10. Phil Dimon graduated from Westminster in 1999 and served in the Peace Corps in Guinea from 2003-2005. He then joined the Foreign Service in 2009 and is currently working in Washington D.C. at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

“I started working for Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield three months ago,” Dimon said.“She has a fantastic reputation at the State Department. She is smart, outgoing, motivated, and great with people.”

Thomas-Greenfield has served in the Foreign Services for 34 years. Her long career includes an ambassadorship to Liberia in 2008-2012 as well as foreign postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, and many other countries.

“She discussed her life journey from growing up in a small town in Louisiana, to being the first person from her family to attend college, and then eventually joining the Foreign Service and becoming an ambassador,” Dimon said.“She also discussed why the Foreign Services is a great career. You get to live all over the world, you learn about new cultures, you learn new languages, and you have the privilege of representing the United States.”

Thomas-Greenfield was sworn in on Aug. 6, 2013, to be the assistant secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs. Before this designation she served as director general of the Foreign Service and director of human resources.

“Her ambition, her humbleness, and her dedication to her work are her most admirable qualities,” Dimon said. “She has no affiliation with Westminster, but I convinced her to come speak at Westminster and she was very happy she came!”

Thomas-Greenfield received the Warren Christopher Award for Outstanding Achievement in Global Affairs in 2000 to recognize her work with refugees. She has also received several other awards such as the Presidential Meritorious Service Award.

“She talked about her life and how she joined the Peace Corps and about her job and her daily routine,” said freshman Charlie Benedict, who attended the ambassador’s speech.

“She was just so much fun,” said Scoot Dimon. “So outgoing, so relaxed, and I was amazed when I met her. This lady is such a big and important person in the State Department yet she was so down to earth and had such a great sense of humor.”

Before she joined the Department of State, Thomas-Greenfield taught political science in Pennsylvania at Bucknell University.

“The main thing that she said is that the world is a wonderful place,” Scoot Dimon said. “You’ve got to go out and explore it. Don’t be afraid of the headlines. Don’t be afraid of what you hear on CNN. Get out into the world and go explore it. Learn to appreciate other cultures and other religions. The world is a wonderful place.”

Thomas-Greenfield earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, at which point she also worked toward a doctorate.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield leads the development and management of our foreign policy in Africa,” said Phil Dimon. “Our top priorities are strengthening democratic institutions, supporting economic growth, development, advancing peace and security, and promoting opportunity and development.”

Thomas-Greenfield served as a director general of the Foreign Service and Human Resources in 2012 and led a team of around 400 staff who dealt with the full range of functions for personnel within the State Department.

“Managing foreign policy in 49 different countries is a major challenge!” said Phil Dimon.  “Conflicts and terrorism are a significant challenge in parts of Africa. Corruption is also a challenge, and leaders who are unwilling to relinquish power also pose a challenge to meeting our goals.”         The ambassador has briefed both President Bush and President Obama throughout her long career. She flew on Air Force One with President Obama during the preisdent’s trip to Kenya and Ethiopia this summer. Thomas-Greenfield’s speech encouraged students to join the foreign services:

“Her points about why the Foreign Service is a great career that students should consider resonated with me most,” said Phil Dimon.

It was an honor to have the ambassador speak at Westminster.        It is even more of an honor to learn about her past and her contributions that helped shape the U.S. foreign relations with Africa and the legacy that she will leave.