U.S. Ambassador to UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield Is 2021 Commencement Speaker

Nearly 700 Masters and Doctoral Public Health Students to Receive Degrees   

April 28, 2021

On Thursday, April 29, close to 700 students will be awarded masters and doctoral degrees from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, will be the Columbia Mailman School’s 2021 Commencement Speaker. She will deliver the keynote address 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 is a tireless advocate for a broad range of issues including climate change, hunger, displaced persons, and effective responses to pandemics -- all key areas of teaching, research, and great interest within our community,” said Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, dean of Columbia Mailman School. “With her unwavering devotion to humanitarian causes, she is an inspiration and an exemplary model of public health leadership and service. We are thrilled that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield will join us as we celebrate our outstanding Class of 2021.”

The distinguished Foreign Service career of Thomas-Greenfield 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. 

Graduating student George Timmins, a master’s degree candidate in Sociomedical Sciences, will deliver remarks on behalf of his fellow Mailman School graduates. Timmins will relocate to Los Angeles to attend the Pardee RAND Graduate School to work towards his PhD in Policy Analysis and serve as an assistant policy researcher at the RAND Corporation.
The Mailman School ranks 4th among public health schools in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings.

WHAT: Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Commencement
WHEN  Thursday, April 29, 2021
             10:30 am ET