Jeffrey Davidow

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Jeffrey Davidow
Jeffrey Davidow.jpg
United States Ambassador to Mexico
In office
August 5, 1998 – September 14, 2002
President Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Preceded by James Robert Jones
Succeeded by Tony Garza
United States Ambassador to Zambia
In office
July 11, 1988 – March 31, 1990
President Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by Paul Julian Hare
Succeeded by Gordon L. Streeb
United States Ambassador to Venezuela
In office
October 1, 1993 – May 16, 1996
President Bill Clinton
Preceded by Michael Martin Skol
Succeeded by John F. Keane
Personal details
Born (1944-01-26) January 26, 1944 (age 73)
Boston, Massachusetts
Political party Democratic

Jeffrey S. Davidow (born January 26, 1944) is a career foreign service officer from the U.S. state of Virginia. Davidow has served as a member of the Senior Foreign Service, as well as having been the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia,[1] Venezuela,[1] and Mexico.[2]

Upon completion of 34 years of service, he retired as the highest ranking U.S. diplomat. Davidow was one of the few people to hold the rank of Career Ambassador.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Davidow was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts in 1965 and an MA from the University of Minnesota in 1967. He also did postgraduate work in India 1968 on a Fulbright travel grant.


Davidow joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1969 and began his career as a junior officer at the American Embassy in Guatemala City, Guatemala, from 1970 to 1972. From 1972 to 1974, he was a U.S. political observer in Santiago, Chile (involved in the case of Charles Horman), and held the same position in Cape Town, South Africa, from 1974 to 1976. He returned to Washington, D.C. in 1976 to take a position as a desk officer in the Office of Southern African Affairs, and he went on to be a Congressional fellow from 1978 to 1979.

He later became the head of the liaison office at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, from 1979 to 1982. He returned shortly thereafter to pursue a fellowship at Harvard University, as well as to take-over as Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs in 1985.

On May 5, 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated Davidow to be U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, a position he held until 1990.[5]

After his ambassadorship to Zambia, he served as deputy assistant secretary of state.[6]

In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Davidow to be U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela. Davidow remained ambassador until 1996.

From 1996 to 1998, he was the State Department's chief policy maker for the Western Hemisphere, serving in the position of Assistant Secretary of State.

Clinton again nominated Davidow in 1998, this time as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Davidow held this post from August 5, 1998 until September 14, 2002.[7]

After leaving Mexico in September 2002, he returned to Harvard to become a Visiting Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. During the 2002-03 academic year, he worked extensively with undergraduate and graduate students and wrote a book on U.S.-Mexican relations. The US and Mexico: The Bear and the Porcupine[8] was first published in Spanish in Mexico by Casa Editorial Grijalbo and in English by Markus Weiner Publishers in April 2004.

Davidow assumed the presidency of the Institute of the Americas on June 1, 2003. The Institute of the Americas, founded in 1983, is an independent, non-profit institution at the University of California, San Diego. Its mission is to be a catalyst for promoting development and integration as a means to improve the economic, political, and social well-being of the people of the Americas.

He has also served as adviser to President Barack Obama for the Summit of the Americas.[9] He is also a member of the advisory board for the Mexico Institute.

Personal life[edit]

Davidow and his wife, Joan, reside in La Jolla, California. The Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College holds some of his papers.


  1. ^ a b "Clinton Is Near a Selection for Mexico Post". New York Times. 7 January 1998. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  2. ^ Bob Deans (7 January 1998). "Clinton's pick for Mexican envoy praised". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Career Ambassadors". United States Department of State. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  4. ^ "A Head of State should not solicit hatred and resentment". El Universal (Caracas). 10 August 2009. Archived from the original on 17 August 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Unita to leave captured towns". The Independent. 21 December 1992. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "Changing the guard: U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow heads home. (Spotlight).". Business Mexico. 1 October 2002. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Starr, Alexandra (17 August 2004). "Migrant Headaches". Washington Post. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Fidel Castro Meets With 3 U.S. Lawmakers". CBS News. 7 April 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Paul Julian Hare
United States Ambassador to Zambia
Succeeded by
Gordon L. Streeb
Preceded by
Michael Martin Skol
United States Ambassador to Venezuela
1 October 1993–16 May 1996
Succeeded by
John Francis Maisto
Preceded by
James Robert Jones
United States Ambassador to Mexico
Succeeded by
Tony Garza
Government offices
Preceded by
Alexander Watson
Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs
August 7, 1996 – 1998
Succeeded by
Peter F. Romero