Rice was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in the Shepherd Park area. Her father, Emmett J. Rice, is a Cornell University economics professor and former governor of the Federal Reserve System. Her mother is education policy scholar Lois Dickson Fitt currently at the Brookings Institute. Her brother, John Rice, received an M.B.A. from Harvard University, and is the founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (an organization committed to developing top minority talent for leadership roles in the business and non-profit sector). Susan Rice was a three-sport athlete, student council president, and valedictorian at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., a private day girls' school. She played point guard in basketball and directed the offense, acquiring the nickname "Spo," short for "Sportin'."
Her parents always told her to "never use race as an excuse or advantage." As a young girl she says she "dreamed of becoming the first U.S. Senator from the District of Columbia." She also held "lingering fears" that her accomplishments would be diminished by people who attributed them to affirmative action.
Rice attended Stanford University, where she received a Truman Scholarship, and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1986. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, Rice attended New College, Oxford, where she earned an M.Phil. in 1988 and a D.Phil. in 1990. The Chatham House-British International Studies Association honored her dissertation titled "Commonwealth Initiative in Zimbabwe , 1979-1980: Implication for International Peacekeeping" as the U.K.'s most distinguished in international relations.
Rice's classmates and professors at Oxford included advocates of the role of the United Nations and international law (Sir Adam Roberts, Benedict Kingsbury), of global economic governance and international economic cooperation (Ngaire Woods, Donald Markwell), and of a firm stance against Russian authoritarianism (Michael McFaul). Sir Adam Roberts is also an expert on international humanitarian intervention, a topic in which Rice has taken a close interest.
Rice married Canadian-born ABC News producer Ian Officer Cameron (born in Victoria, British Columbia) in 1992 while they both lived in Toronto, she as a management consultant for McKinsey, he a producer for the CBC. They met as students at Stanford. They reside in Washington, D.C. with their two children (a son and a daughter named Jake and Marris).
Rice was a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential election. She was a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm, in the early 1990s. While at McKinsey, Rice was affiliated with the firm's Toronto office.
Rice served in the Clinton administration in various capacities: at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997; as Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995; and as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997.
Assistant Secretary of State
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a longtime mentor and family friend to Rice. Albright urged Clinton to appoint Rice as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in 1997. Rice was not the first choice of Congressional Black Caucus leaders, who considered Rice a member of "Washington's assimilationist black elite." Even at a confirmation hearing chaired by Senator Jesse Helms, Rice, who attended the hearing along with her infant son, whom she was then nursing, made a great impression on Senators from both parties and "sailed through the confirmation process." Rice was Assistant Secretary for African Affairs until Clinton left office in 2001.
Susan Rice was viewed by many officials and diplomats as very bright, but also as inexperienced and inflexible. Rice was considered "young, brilliant, and ambitious," and she worked to "integrate Africa in the global economy while at the same time aiming to increase U.S. national security." At the same time, she was criticized by detractors who considered her "authoritarian, brash, and unwilling to consider opinions that differ from her own," and reportedly having disputes from some career diplomats in the African bureau. Newsweek national correspondent Martha Brant wrote that:
When Rice left for the State Department after five years in the White House, a colleague gave her a Zulu shield. She would need it, the friend explained, to fight the entrenched foreign-service bureaucracy. In fact, the flak started flying even before Rice had moved to Foggy Bottom. She filled a job that for decades had been held by a series of middle-aged career Africanists. Longtime bureaucrats griped that she was too green, that she was a political hire. Some complained that she had the same problem as many Clinton appointees: youthful arrogance. "She doesn't know what she doesn't know," says one Africa expert who deals with her. "And she doesn't tolerate dissenters." Some of the African press suggested that Rice would have little influence with traditional African male leaders. "It may be splendidly progressive of Clinton to place his Africa policy in the care of relatively young women," wrote Simon Barber in the South African Business Day. "On the other hand, he's utterly ignoring a cultural reality." Rice dismisses that concern. "They have no choice but to deal with me on professional terms. I represent the United States of America," she says. "Yeah, they may do a double take, but then they have to listen to what you say, how you say it and what you do about what you say."
Rice was managing director and principal at Intellibridge from 2001 to 2002. In 2002, she joined the Brookings Institution as senior fellow in the Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development program. At Brookings, she focused on U.S. foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Rice served as a foreign policy adviser to John Kerry.
Rice was inducted into Stanford's Black Alumni Hall of Fame in 2002.
Rice is currently on leave from the Brookings Institution, having served as a senior foreign policy advisor to Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign. On November 5, 2008, Rice was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. On December 1, 2008, she was nominated by President-elect Obama to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a position which he also upgraded to cabinet level. Rice is the second youngest and first African American woman U.S. Representative to the U.N. Dr. Rice has announced she will have both a transition team in place in New York and in Washington, D.C. at the State Department to be headed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Susan Rice serves on the boards of several organizations, including the National Democratic Institute, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, board of directors of the Atlantic Council, advisory board of Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the board of directors of Bureau of National Affairs, board of directors of Partnership for Public Service, the Beauvoir National Cathedral Elementary School, and past member of the Internews Network's board of directors.
She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Aspen Strategy Group.
* Recipient, Walter Frewen Lord prize, Royal Commonwealth Society, 1990
* Association prize, Chatham House-British Internat. Studies, 1992
* Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial award (co-recipient), NSC, 2000
* Co-Recipient, Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Award, November 2009
On October 5, 1998, an article appeared in Newsweek magazine describing Rice as "widely seen by African diplomats and U.S. experts as bright but inexperienced and inflexible."
The same article also noted:
"Washington provided a smokescreen for the multinational force that invaded neighboring Zaire from Rwanda in 1996 and overthrew the notorious dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Administration sources insisted they had no prior knowledge of the offensive, but according to one highly placed strategist of the war, Washington had promised not to oppose such an incursion. It's a fine, Clintonian, distinction. 'Anything's better than Mobutu,' Susan Rice told one acquaintance at the time. But in the view of many Africa specialists, Washington's tacit complicity in the violation of the Congo's borders was dangerously destabilizing."
In September 2001 Samantha Power wrote in an Atlantic Monthly piece that while working at the national Security Council, Rice asked, during an interagency teleconference, "If we use the word 'genocide' and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?" However, in the same article Power also notices that Rice acknowledges the mistakes made and "feels that she has a debt to repay."
In a 2002 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, former Ambassador to Sudan Timothy Carney and news contributor Mansoor Ijaz implicated Rice and counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke in missing an opportunity to neutralize Osama bin Laden while he was still in Sudan. They write that Sudan and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were ready to cooperate on intelligence potentially leading to bin Laden, but that Rice and Clarke persuaded National Security Advisor Sandy Berger to overrule Albright. Similar allegations have been made by Vanity Fair contributing editor David Rose and Richard Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, in a November 2003 interview with World.
While the writings of Carney, Ijaz, Rose and Miniter each claim that Sudan offered to turn bin Laden over to the US and that Rice was central in the decision not to accept the offer, The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (the 9-11 Commission) concluded in part "Sudan's minister of defense, Fatih Erwa, has claimed that Sudan offered to hand Bin Laden over to the United States. The Commission has found no credible evidence that this was so. Ambassador Carney had instructions only to push the Sudanese to expel bin Laden. Ambassador Carney had no legal basis to ask for more from the Sudanese since, at the time, there was no indictment outstanding."the issue that led to the death of "President-elect" Basorun of Nigeria.
Susan Rice has been criticized for her role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda that would claim over 800,000 lives. There was great pressure on Susan Rice, who was Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Clinton Administration, to intervene. Many in the State department have commented on Susan Rice stating that "it was an election year" and that is why she did not want the U.S. involved. In Samantha Power’s study of the U.S. reaction to genocide, As an Africa expert on the NSC, she shocked an interagency conference call by interjecting domestic politics into the discussion of the administration’s policy options. “If we use the word ‘genocide,’” Rice allegedly asked her colleagues, “and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Rice later told Power that while she didn’t remember saying that, “If I said it, it was completely inappropriate." About Rwanda, Rice later told Power, “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required,” which might explain Rice’s passion about Darfur. There was criticism in some quarters over Susan Rice's appointment by President Obama as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. because of her role in the Rwanda genocide.