Azita Raji

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Azita Raji
Amb Azita Raji 200 1.jpg
United States Ambassador to Sweden
In office
March 8, 2016 – January 20, 2017
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Mark Brzezinski
Succeeded by David Lindwall (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1961-09-29) September 29, 1961 (age 56)
Tehran, Iran
Spouse(s) Gary Syman
Children 5
Alma mater Columbia University

Azita Raji (Persian: آزیتا راجی‎, born September 29, 1961) is an Iranian-American diplomat, banker and philanthropist. She was nominated by President Barack Obama in October 2014[1] to serve as the United States ambassador to the Kingdom of Sweden,[2] and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in February 2016.[3][4][5] She presented her credentials to His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on March 15, 2016,[6][7] and completed her tour of duty on January 20, 2017.[8][9]

Ambassador Raji was nominated for the State Department's highest award for a non-career ambassador, the Sue M. Cobb Prize for Exemplary Diplomatic Service. She was the first female United States ambassador to Sweden, as well as the first Iranian-American to serve as a United States ambassador.[10]

Biography[edit]

Born in Tehran, Iran, Raji completed her high school education in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she competed nationally as a downhill skier and chess player, before moving to the United States at the age of 17.[11] She earned a B.A. in 1983 in architecture and French from Barnard College, Columbia University, followed by an M.B.A. in 1991 in Finance from Columbia Business School. Raji became a U.S. citizen in 1988.

Raji is a Chartered Financial Analyst (C.F.A.) and has been a member of the Institute for Chartered Financial Analysts since 1991. She is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee, an elite organization which supports international finance institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.[12] Earlier in her career as an international investment banker, she held senior positions at firms including J.P. Morgan, Salomon Brothers and Drexel Burnham Lambert.[13][14]

By 2008, Raji had left the financial sector to focus on national politics. In 2012, she served as National Finance Vice Chair and Chair of Swing State Victory Fund for the Obama campaign. Raji was a national advisory board member of the Democratic National Committee and a member of the Obama for America National Finance Committee from 2008 to 2012.[15] In 2013, President Obama appointed Raji to serve as a Commissioner on The President's Commission on White House Fellows.[16] In addition, Raji was appointed as a Commissioner of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Raji's philanthropic activities include numerous active leadership roles in the nonprofit sector:[17] Trustee and member of the Executive Committee, Barnard College, Columbia University; Advisory Board, Columbia Business School Tamer Center for Social Enterprise; Founding Co-Chair, Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, Columbia University; Economic Advisory Council, Center for American Progress; Director, National Partnership for Women & Families.[18]

On July 4, 2016, Raji was recognized as an honoree of Great Immigrants: The Pride of America, the Carnegie Corporation of New York's annual recognition of inspiring naturalized U.S. citizens who have made notable contributions to the progress of American society.[19]

On December 10, 2016, as the United States Ambassador to Sweden, Raji read Bob Dylan's letter to the Nobel Committee on his behalf during the Nobel banquet in Stockholm, in recognition of Dylan being awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.[20][21][22][23]

Raji is an honoree of the 2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, recognized by both Houses of Congress as one of the nation's most prestigious awards honoring distinguished Americans.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

Currently based in Northern California, Raji has lived and worked in the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and the Far East and is fluent in several languages, including Persian and French.[26] She is married to Gary Syman, a former partner of Goldman Sachs.[27] They have five daughters and seven grandchildren.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Report for the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate" (PDF). The White House. February 2015. 
  2. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". The White House. 23 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "America's Empty Embassies". The New York Times. 29 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "For Norway, an Envoy; For Cruz, a Street Name". The New York Times. 12 February 2016. 
  5. ^ "Kerry Finally Fills Top Positions at State". ForeignPolicy.com. 17 February 2016. 
  6. ^ "Ambassador to Sweden presents her credentials". U.S. Embassy in Sweden. 22 March 2016. 
  7. ^ "Formal audiences at the Royal Palace of Stockholm". U.S. Embassy in Sweden. 15 March 2016. 
  8. ^ "The King holds a farewell audience with the USA's ambassador". U.S. Embassy in Sweden. 16 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "DN Debatt. "Inclusion, freedom, and democracy are non-negotiable values"". DN.debatt. 5 February 2017. 
  10. ^ "US to get first female ambassador in Sweden". The Local SE. 24 October 2014. 
  11. ^ "Iranian-American woman Azita Raji Nominated For Ambassador To Sweden". Payvand Iran News. 25 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Member's Corner". The Bretton Woods Committee. October 2014. 
  13. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". The White House. 6 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "The Potemkin Obama Revolution On Wall Street". RedState. 3 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "Top bundler Azita Raji appointed to White House administrative post". The American Bazaar. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  16. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". The White House. 6 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Report for the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate" (PDF). The White House. February 2015. 
  18. ^ "Iranian-American woman Azita Raji Nominated For Ambassador To Sweden". Payvand Iran News. 25 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "2016 Great Immigrants Honorees: The Pride of America". Carnegie Corporation of New York,. 30 June 2016. 
  20. ^ "Bob Dylan Nobel Prize Speech". YouTube. 11 December 2016. 
  21. ^ "How Does It Feel, by Patti Smith". The New Yorker. 14 December 2016. 
  22. ^ "The Royal Family attend the Nobel Banquet". Swedish Royal Court. 10 December 2016. 
  23. ^ "Read Bob Dylan's Nobel Prize in Literature Banquet Speech". Rolling Stone. 10 December 2016. 
  24. ^ "American Immigrants from 37 Nationalities Honored on Ellis Island". Huffington Post. 5 May 2017. 
  25. ^ "2017 Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients". National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. 20 April 2017. 
  26. ^ "The President's Commission on White House Fellowships". The White House. Retrieved 9 September 2015. 
  27. ^ "Check Out The 11 Lucky Wall Streeters Who Were Invited To The Obama Dinner". Business Insider. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mark Brzezinski
United States Ambassador to Sweden
2016–2017
Succeeded by
David Lindwall
Acting