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Ambassador Susan D. Page brings a lifetime of international relations leadership as she joins the U-M Law School and Ford School of Public Policy

June 10, 2020

Ambassador Susan D. Page, who has served the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations in senior roles for decades – across East, Central and Southern Africa, and in Haiti and Nepal – is joining the Law School as a Professor from Practice. She also will serve at the Ford School of Public Policy as a Professor of Practice in International Diplomacy and will be helping to build the Weiser Diplomacy Center.

"Throughout her distinguished career, Susan has overseen the establishment of legal infrastructure in emerging nations where none existed. She has been instrumental in drafting peace agreements and in leading conflict resolution among nation states. Our students will benefit tremendously from the experience and perspective she brings to the classroom and we are elated to welcome her home to Michigan as a member of our faculty," said Mark D. West, University of Michigan Law School Dean and Nippon Life Professor of Law. 

"This is a great moment for the Ford School and the Weiser Diplomacy Center, as we expand the depth and breadth of our instruction and engagement with a professor of practice of Ambassador Page's distinguished experience and talents. Ambassador Page's expertise in conflict resolution, negotiation, development, and institutional reform are unparalleled.  We are thrilled to welcome her back to her alma mater," said Michael S. Barr, Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy and the Frank Murphy Collegiate Professor of Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Page was the first U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan and served as Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations in Haiti, among other senior diplomatic roles. Most recently she was a visiting Professor of Practice at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

As ambassador to newly independent South Sudan from 2011-14, Ambassador Page played a crucial role in navigating the instability and eventual eruption of civil war in the country and providing foreign policy options for change. She then went on to serve as chargé d'affaires to the U.S. Mission to the African Union and Acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

In her time with the U.S. government, she also held a number of other important roles, including attorney-adviser for Politico-Military Affairs in the State Department's Office of the Legal Adviser, USAID regional legal advisor in Kenya and Botswana covering East and Southern Africa, and political officer in Rwanda. She served as senior advisor to the special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs before her posting as ambassador. She has received several top State Department awards for her service, including the Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service, the Commendation for Outstanding Service to the Sudan Peace Process and the Meritorious Honor Award for outstanding efforts in the promotion of the rule of law, human rights, and peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

"My life's work has been to promote justice, fairness and peace through diplomacy, law and policy," said Page.  "Joining the Faculty of the Ford School of Public Policy and the Law School at this time of societal introspection in America and beyond, when the vision and mission of the University of Michigan are needed more than ever, is an honor and privilege. I look forward to putting into the practice of teaching and mentoring the skills that I first acquired at Michigan, and later developed through my law and diplomacy work, for the next generation of change makers." 

"Ambassador Page brings a breadth of diplomatic experience that will inform and inspire students at the Ford School and across the University," said John Ciorciari, faculty director of the Weiser Diplomacy Center and International Policy Center.

Page played a major role in peace processes and international negotiations. In the early 2000s, she was a legal and political advisor to the Horn of Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development Secretariat for Peace that mediated an end to Africa's longest running civil war. The peace agreement for Sudan led to a peaceful referendum for self-determination that created the new Republic of South Sudan in 2011. After the peace agreement was signed in 2005, Page created and led the Rule of Law and Corrections Advisory Unit at the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan. 

More recently, she held a series of high-ranking jobs in the UN. She served as deputy special representative of the UN Secretary-General responsible for the rule of law at the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti, then as special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Justice Support in Haiti. In 2018, Secretary-General Guterres appointed her as his special advisor on rule of law under the Global Focal Point initiative. UN leaders later adopted her recommendations for restructuring the initiative.

Her remarkable career also includes experience in civil society. Between 2007 and 2009, she served as regional director for Southern and East Africa at the National Democratic Institute—a prominent NGO engaged in democracy promotion and linked to the U.S. Democratic Party.

Ambassador Susan D. Page has deep expertise in international relations, particularly in Africa.  Her senior level roles have included Assistant Secretary General/Special Adviser on Rule of Law, Global Focal Point Review Implementation, Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support to Haiti (MINUJUSTH), first U.S. Ambassador to newly independent South Sudan, U.S. Chargé d'Affaires to the African Union, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, key adviser to the peace process that resolved Africa's longest-running civil war through international mediation, head of rule of law programs for the UN, and a foreign service regional legal advisor and political officer in East, Central, and Southern Africa.

Page earned a JD from Harvard Law School and an AB in English with high distinction from the University of Michigan. She was awarded a Rotary International Postgraduate Fellowship to Nepal where she conducted research on women's and children's rights. In addition, she received certificates of merit and distinction from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland before attending law school. Ambassador Page is an elected member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a board member of Road Scholar, and a member of the Association of Black American Ambassadors.  

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