Examples of Excellence

From among the legions of outstanding diplomats who have served the United States since the middle of the 20th century, the following 25 individuals were chosen to exemplify the highest standards of the profession. The list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, or to suggest that others are not equally, if not more, deserving of such attention.


Thomas Pickering (1931- )

Thomas Pickering's lengthy and exceptionally successful career led him to ambassadorships in Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel, India and the Russian Federation. In addition, he was U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations during the George H.W. Bush Administration and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs prior to his retirement. First employed as a Civil Servant by the State Department in 1959, he served successively in the Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research and in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), and was a political advisor at the U.S. Mission in Geneva between 1962 and 1964 during the 18-nation Disarmament Conference. After joining the Foreign Service ranks, Pickering went to the U.S. Consulate in Zanzibar in 1965, and became deputy chief of mission at the embassy in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, just two years later. Before beginning his run of ambassadorial and other high-profile assignments, he served as a special assistant first to Secretary William Rogers and then to Secretary Henry Kissinger in 1973-74, and also held the post of Executive Secretary of the Department of State. Retiring with the personal rank of career ambassador, Pickering subsequently assumed leadership roles in numerous prestigious private institutions that support U.S. foreign policy and its practitioners. The Department’s Pickering Fellowship program, designed to provide academic funding for promising minority entrants into the Foreign Service, is named in his honor.