Bisa Williams

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Bisa Williams
Bisa Williams ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to Niger
In office
29 October 2010 – 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Bernadette M. Allen
Succeeded by Eunice S. Reddick
Personal details
Born 1954
Nationality American
Relations sister Ntozake Shange (author)
Children 1 son (Michael)
Alma mater National War College, University of California, Los Angeles, Yale College
Occupation Ambassador
Website Ambassador Bisa Williams

Bisa Williams (born 1954) is the former Ambassador from the United States of America to the Republic of Niger in Niamey. She assumed the post on October 29, 2010. She left her post in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Bisa Williams was raised in St. Louis, Missouri and Trenton, New Jersey. Her father Dr. Paul T. Williams was a surgeon while her mother Eloise Owens Williams was a professor of Social Work at the College of New Jersey. Her sister, Ntozake Shange, is a playwright best known for writing the Broadway play "for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf". Her other sister, Ifa Bayeza, is also a playwright, who co-wrote a multi-generational novel with her sister Shange. [1] She received as Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College, where she graduated in 1976 cum laude with honors distinctions in Black Literature of the Americas.[2] She later received a Master of Arts degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College, and a second MA from the University of California, Los Angeles in comparative literature.[3][4]


Bisa Williams is a career foreign service officer, having joined the Foreign Service in 1984. Her previous overseas postings include Port Louis, Mauritius; Paris, France and Panama City, Panama.[4] Her first overseas assignment was in Port Louis, Mauritius, a mission that also covers Seychelles and Comoros, where she served as Deputy Chief of Mission under Ambassador John Price.[5][6] She oversaw the African Growth and Opportunity Act Forum to improve trade relations between the United States and Africa.[2]

Prior to being assigned to Niamey, Bisa Williams, then U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, participated in a September 2009 six-day trip to Cuba in an attempt to improve bilateral relations. During the trip she met with Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodríguez Barrera, worked on restoring direct mail service between the two countries, and toured parts of western Cuba hit by Hurricane Ike.[7] She also invited dissidents to a reception at the United States Interests Section in Havana.[8][9]

Her nomination to be United States Ambassador to Niger was sent to the United States Senate on November 30, 2009,[10] and she assumed the post in Niamey eleven months later, on October 29, 2010.[11] She left her post in 2013.

Williams is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.[12]


  1. ^ Williams, Bisa (2 February 2010). "Statement of Bisa Williams, Ambassador-Designate to the Republic of Niger, Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations" (PDF). Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Mentoring Session with Bisa Williams '76, Dpty Asst Sec'y of State (A)". The Yale Club of Washington, D.C. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  3. ^ "Engaging Cuba: Policy Options for the United States, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere" (PDF). Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. 16 November 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Ambassador Bisa Williams". United States Department of State. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  5. ^ United States House Committee on Ways and Means. Report on Trade Mission to Sub-Saharan Africa. DIANE Publishing. p. 11. ISBN 9781428950306. 
  6. ^ Mauritius Investment and Business Guide. International Business Publications. 2002. p. 206. ISBN 9780739741214. 
  7. ^ Labott, Elise (29 September 2009). "Senior U.S. official holds talks in Cuba". CNN. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bisa Williams visita La Habana". Univision via YouTube. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "US and Cuba in high-level talks". BBC News. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Presidential Nominations Sent to the Senate, 11/30/09". 30 November 2009. Retrieved 26 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "BISA WILLIAMS (1954-)". Office of the Historian. 
  12. ^ "Bisa Williams". US State Department. Retrieved 2015-06-28.