Colleen Bell

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Colleen Bell
Colleen Bell State Dept portrait.png
United States Ambassador to Hungary
In office
January 21, 2015 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byEleni Kounalakis
Succeeded byDavid Cornstein
Personal details
Colleen Clark Bradley

(1967-01-30) January 30, 1967 (age 52)
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Bradley Bell (m. 1991)
ResidenceHolmby Hills, Los Angeles, California
Alma materSweet Briar College
AwardsMiddle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit

Colleen Bradley Bell (born January 30, 1967) is an American television producer known for her work on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful and for her involvement in various social issues. She was appointed United States Ambassador to Hungary by United States President Barack Obama and took office on January 21, 2015. Prior to assuming the ambassadorship, Bell lived with her family in Los Angeles, California.

Early life and education[edit]

Bell (née Bradley) was born in 1967 in Evanston, Illinois, to Sheila, an interior designer, and Edward Bradley, a lawyer.[1][2] Bell studied economics and political science at Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, and graduated in 1989 with a bachelor's degree.[2][3]

Producing career[edit]

Bell's television career began in 1991 at Bell-Phillip Television Productions, the production company for the CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful.[1][2][4] Bell served in various roles for the show, including associate producer,[4] script supervisor[5] and director of special projects.[6] After leaving the show in 2000, she returned several years later as special projects director, and in 2011 led a project to overhaul and update all the fashion on the show, a critical aspect of production because the plot focuses on two rival fashion houses.[6] She became a full producer in 2012.[5] As producer, Bell has received three Daytime Emmy Award nominations when The Bold and the Beautiful was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series in 2013,[7] 2014[8] and 2015.[9]

Issues advocacy, philanthropy and political involvement[edit]

Bell is active in issues advocacy and philanthropy. In 2007, she met with Senator Barbara Boxer about global warming as part of a delegation from the Leadership Council, a Los Angeles County environmental issues group.[10]

In 2010 Bell was named to President Barack Obama's Advisory Committee on the Arts, and in 2011 she was elected chairperson.[6] Obama appointed Bell to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Board of Trustees in 2012.[2] Additionally, she has served as a trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Los Angeles Music Center and vice chairperson of the Children's Institute Inc..[11]

Bell is also active in the Democratic Party, and served as an at-large delegate to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.[12] As a "bundler", Bell helped raise more than $2.1 million for Obama's 2012 presidential campaign.[13] In February 2012, Bell and her husband, The Bold and the Beautiful executive producer and head writer Bradley Phillip Bell, hosted a fundraiser for Obama at their home with actor Will Ferrell and his wife, Viveca Paulin.[14]


Appointment and confirmation[edit]

On November 6, 2013, President Obama nominated Bell to succeed Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis as ambassador to Hungary.[2][11][15] Bell was one of three ambassadorial nominees who, according to the Washington Post, came to "symbolize the problems with giving plum overseas diplomatic assignments to big political donors".[16] Senator John McCain questioned Bell's lack of diplomatic experience and knowledge of Hungary.[17] In an article for Politico, James Bruno, a former U.S. career foreign service officer, noted that Bell "could not answer questions about the United States' strategic interests in Hungary".[18] When asked during questioning about American interests in the nation, Bell "stumbled and stammered", replying "the security relationship and also the law enforcement and to promote business opportunities, um, increase trade, um".[19][20]

Senator Barbara Boxer supported Bell, noting her intelligence and ability to "make friends".[17] Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary, defended the nomination on the grounds that Bell's private sector success and issues advocacy experience would enable her to work effectively on economic and trade concerns of interest to both Hungary and the United States.[4] The Senate confirmed Bell in a 52-42 vote on December 2, 2014, and she was sworn in on December 16.[17][21]

Work as ambassador[edit]

On January 19, 2015, Bell arrived in Budapest, ending the 18-month absence of an American ambassador which had existed since Kounalakis departed in July 2013.[22] Bell presented her credentials to President János Áder of Hungary on January 21, 2015.[23]

In February 2015, Bell signed an agreement that, pending ratification by both countries' legislatures, would end dual taxation of U.S. and Hungarian citizens.[24] Speaking at an event held by the American Chamber of Commerce that month, Bell told a forum that transparency and predictability regarding Hungarian business laws and regulations are needed to attract U.S. investors to the country.[25][26]

Also in February, Bell spoke in support of Ukrainian sovereignty during the ongoing conflict between Ukraine, which is Hungary's northeastern neighbor, and Russia.[27] Bell's comments in support of Ukraine were notable because her remarks to diplomats from NATO member states came as Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting Budapest.[27]

As the European migrant crisis unfolded in 2015, with people from Syria fleeing that country's Syrian Civil War, Hungary saw the largest spike of migrants per capita from January to June.[28] By October 2015, Hungary had responded by blocking its southern borders with Serbia[29] and Croatia to prevent the influx of migrants.[30] Bell spoke to the press on September 30, stating that her embassy staff had been in regular contact with the Hungarian government, non-governmental organizations and the public on the migrant issue.[31][32] According to Bell, in addition to information sharing and logistical help, her office gave direct aid to organizations such as the Hungarian Red Cross.[31][32] While acknowledging that Hungary's sovereignty allows it to choose how to secure its borders, she stated that the U.S. "promote[s] the humane treatment of refugees".[31][32] She was also critical of Hungarian "anti-immigration rhetoric" in the media, stating that it "doesn't represent the Hungarian people".[31][32]

In October 2015 Bell spoke at Corvinus University of Budapest, and praised Hungary's efforts to support the Ukraine during its conflict with Russia. In addition, she expressed appreciation for Hungary's partnership with the United States and its allies in the areas of counter-terrorism and law enforcement, and called for greater economic cooperation between the U.S. and Hungary. She also expressed concern over recent, potentially unfavorable developments in Hungary, including government corruption, a decline in press freedoms, and negative stereotypes with regard to refugees from Syria.[33] Bell's speech attracted significant media attention, raising her profile in the international community.

Ambassador Bell reached out to Hungarian society through her Instagram page, documenting her travels across Hungary. Ambassador Bell visited several national parks in Hungary.

Bell was awarded the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit for her work in strengthening the bilateral relationship between Hungary and the United States. Ambassador Bell served until January 20, 2017 as the United States Ambassador to Hungary.

Personal life[edit]

On October 4, 1991, Bell married Bradley Phillip Bell, the son of Lee Phillip Bell and William J. Bell, at Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Evanston, Illinois.[1] The Bells have four children,[10] including daughter Charlotte [34] , and live in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles.[35]


  1. ^ a b c "Colleen Cradley, Bradley Bell Wed". Chicago Tribune. 16 November 1991. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ambassador to Hungary: Who is Colleen Bell?". 2 June 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  3. ^ Peet, Lisa (22 June 2015). "Sudden Sweet Briar Closure Leaves Library in Limbo". Library Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b c Chambers, Francesca (2 December 2014). "White House unable to list qualifications of Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to Hungary (but she does produce The Bold and the Beautiful)". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  5. ^ a b Kevin Mulcahy Jr. (2 December 2014). "'The Bold and the Beautiful' Producer Colleen Bell Confirmed by Senate as Ambassador to Hungary". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Logan, Michael (1 July 2011). "The Bold and the Beautiful gets a fashion makeover". TV Guide. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  7. ^ Labrecque, Jeff (1 May 2013). "Daytime Emmy nominations: 'Young and the restless' leads CBS". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ "2014 Daytime Emmy Nominations Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (31 March 2015). "'General Hospital,' Ellen DeGeneres, CBS Lead Daytime Emmy Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b Williams, Alex (21 October 2007). "Washington Feels Hollywood's Heat". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b Johnson, Ted (6 November 2013). "Obama Nominated Producer Colleen Bell to be Ambassador to Hungary". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ Johnson, Ted (8 August 2012). "Showbiz Figures Among Delegates to DNC". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  13. ^ "Obama's Top Fund-Raisers". The New York Times. 13 September 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  14. ^ Daunt, Tina (26 January 2012). "Two Obama Hollywood fundraisers set for soap opera titan's Holmby Hills Estate". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  15. ^ Hayden, Erik (6 November 2013). "Producer Colleen Bradley Bell Nominated U.S. Ambassador to Hungary". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  16. ^ Itkowitz, Colby (21 November 2014). "Two Obama political ambassador nominees finally get their vote". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  17. ^ a b c Saenz, Arlette (2 December 2014). "Soap opera producer is now an ambassador and John McCain isn't happy". ABC News. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  18. ^ Bruno, James (7 June 2014). "Why Does America Send So Many Stupid, Unqualified Hacks Overseas?". Politico. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  19. ^ Ramsey, Nick (8 February 2014). "Diplomatic disunity: We need ambassadors, not fundraisers". MSNBC. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  20. ^ Knox, Olivier (21 November 2014). "Senate to vote on two controversial Obama 'ambassadonors' Dec. 1". Yahoo News. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  21. ^ "Remarks at the swearing in ceremony". United States Department of State. 16 December 2014. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  22. ^ Woodard, Colin (19 June 2015). "American ambassador's frank memoir of Hungary's slide into autocracy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Prime Minister Orbán holds talks with US Ambassador Colleen Bell". Hungary Today. 18 March 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  24. ^ "US, Hungary sign to end dual taxation". Budapest Times. 8 February 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  25. ^ Keszthelyi, Christian (12 February 2015). "Bell stresses importance of transparency". Budapest Business Journal. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  26. ^ Szakacs, Gergely (11 February 2015). "More predictability, more trade - U.S. tells Hungary". Reuters. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  27. ^ a b "US ambassador sends Putin strongly-worded message on day of Budapest visit". Hungary Today. 18 February 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  28. ^ "Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in graphics". BBC News. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  29. ^ Bienvenu, Helene; Lyman, Rick (15 September 2015). "Hungary Blocks Migrants in Border Crackdown". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  30. ^ "Migrant crisis: Hungary closes border with Croatia". BBC News. 17 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  31. ^ a b c d "Colleen Bell: A menekültellenes retorika nem segít" [Colleen Bell: The anti-refugee rhetoric will not help] (in Hungarian). 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  32. ^ a b c d "Interview with Hungarian news portal Origo". United States Department of State. 30 September 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  33. ^ Pálfi, Rita (October 29, 2015). "US ambassador sends alarm bell warning to Hungary". Euronews. Lyon, France.
  34. ^ Colacello, Bob. "Inside Paris's 25th Annual le Bal des Débutantes". Vanity Fair.
  35. ^ Johnson, Ted (3 March 2013). "Hollywood's Diplomatic Intrigue". Variety. Retrieved 2 November 2015.

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Eleni Kounalakis
United States Ambassador to Hungary
Succeeded by
David Cornstein