President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations has a bit of Badger in her blood.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield earned a master’s degree in public administration from UW-Madison in 1975, has spoken at African Studies Program events and launched the university’s Young African Leaders Initiative, which brings two dozen African leaders to campus for several weeks.
Thomas-Greenfield served as assistant secretary of state for African affairs during the Obama administration, leading U.S. policy on sub-Saharan Africa. She is a senior vice president at Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington, D.C.
Crawford Young, a retired UW-Madison professor in the political science department, supervised Thomas-Greenfield and, in a 2017 letter submitted to the UW-Madison committee that oversees the honorary degree process, recalled that she “had a quiet dignity that was striking.”
Thomas-Greenfield later confided in Young that Madison was a “major cultural shock” from the tight-knit African-American community she had in Louisiana where she attended Louisiana State University for her bachelor’s degree, Young wrote in the letter.
But Thomas-Greenfield “adapted well,” conducted field research for her dissertation in Liberia and went on to become “one of the most successful diplomats of our generation,” Young wrote.
UW-Madison awarded Thomas-Greenfield an honorary degree in 2018. She spoke to graduate and professional students during the spring 2018 commencement ceremony.