Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering served as the U.S. Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations in New York under President George H.W. Bush. He also was the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs under President Bill Clinton. Tom holds the personal rank of Career Ambassador, the highest in the U.S. Foreign Service. In a diplomatic career spanning five decades, he was U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. He also served on assignments in Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In Washington, he was Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans, Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Executive Secretary of the Department of State, and Special Assistant to Secretaries of State William P. Rogers and Henry A. Kissinger. In 1956, Tom entered into active duty in the U.S. Navy, and later served in the Naval Reserve to the grade of Lieutenant Commander. He was assigned to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research of the State Department, later to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and served in Geneva as political adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the 18-Nation Disarmament Conference.
Tom is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. He is active in a number of not-for-profit boards. He has a bachelor's degree, cum laude, with high honors in history, from Bowdoin College. He received a master's degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to the University of Melbourne in Australia, and received a second master's degree there. Tom received an honorary doctor-in-laws degree from Bowdoin College, and has received similar honors from 14 other universities. He received the Distinguished Presidential Award and the Department of State’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Award. He speaks French, Spanish, and Swahili and has some fluency in Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian.