Mailman School of Public Health Announces 2021 Commencement Speaker

March 30, 2021

Dean Linda P. Fried announced that Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, will be the Columbia Mailman School’s 2021 Commencement Speaker. She will deliver the keynote address on April 29, 2021 and receive the School’s Visionary Leadership Award.

A career diplomat, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield served in top foreign service posts on four continents before retiring in 2017. During her 35-year career she made her mark in several positions including as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, where she focused on the development and management of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa and helped oversee the response to the Ebola epidemic; and as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources, where she led a team in charge of the 70,000-plus workforce.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s distinguished Foreign Service career includes serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, and postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica.  In Washington DC, she served at the U.S. Department of State as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs, and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

As the country’s senior representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is leading the promotion of multilateral collaboration to address global public health crises like the coronavirus pandemic, forced migration, climate change, inequality, conflict-driven hunger and humanitarian issues, and the emergence of a new Ebola outbreak. She was among President Biden’s earliest Cabinet nominees and serves as one of his most trusted advisors.