President Obama nominates three alumni

Ambassadors to Israel and Honduras and a member of the National Science Board

Ambassador-designate Lisa (Shapiro) Kubiske '75 and National Science Board nominee Robert J. Zimmer '68


May 27: Daniel B. Shapiro was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Israel on May 26.

President Obama has nominated three Brandeis alumni to key posts in his administration. Senior adviser Daniel B. Shapiro ‘91 has been chosen as ambassador to Israel, career diplomat Lisa (Shapiro) Kubiske ‘75 as ambassador to Honduras and University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer ‘68 as member of the National Science Board, which governs the National Science Foundation.

Shapiro is the senior director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Staff at the White House, a position he has held since January of 2009. He served as a senior policy advisor with a focus on Middle East policy on the Obama for America campaign and the Obama-Biden Transition.

According to a recent story in the New York Times, as popular revolts toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia, Shapiro was part of an elite group of advisers devising a policy to protect American interests in the region while also supporting democratic aspirations. Shapiro also worked closely with the president’s Middle East envoy, George J. Mitchell, on efforts to revive the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

"For a field so fraught with ideological and actual minefields, Dan Shapiro was able to win friends on all sides,” says David Makovsky, director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy located in Washington, D.C. “He also has 24/7 dedication. I am sure he will be successful in melding both of these traits in his new post as ambassador to Israel. I wish him the best of success."

The Washington Post reports Shapiro as one of President Obama's most trusted Middle Eastern aides who has served with Jeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, as special envoy to Syria.

From 2001 to 2007, Shapiro served as deputy chief of staff and legislative director for U.S. senator Bill Nelson.  Prior to that, Shapiro served as director for legislative affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.

Shapiro spent four years as a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and served as a professional staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee for two years. In addition to a B.A. from Brandeis, Shapiro holds an A.M. from Harvard University.

Kubiske was in Brazil checking her Blackberry after a late meeting when she saw that her nomination had been posted by the White House. She is a career member of the foreign service and currently serves as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. Prior to this assignment, she served as director of the Office of Regional Economic Policy and Summit Coordination in the bureau of Western Hemisphere. 

Since joining the Foreign Service in 1983, Kubiske has held numerous positions in Washington and abroad.  She has served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo, Director of the Office of Economic and Political Affairs at the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong, economics officer at the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai and Science/Technology Officer and Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico.

“At Brandeis, I had a double major in anthropology and psychology, with a certificate in Latin American Studies,” says Kubiske. “Those majors taught me a lot about how people think and act, individually and in societies and gave me an awareness that informs my diplomatic work every day.”

In Washington, Kubiske has been special assistant to the under secretary of state for economic, business and agricultural affairs; financial economist in the Office of Monetary Affairs; economic/commercial officer in the Office of China and Mongolia Affairs; staff officer and operations watch officer in the Office of the Executive Secretariat. Kubiske has also served at the Office of the US Trade Representative and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. In addition to her B.A. from Brandeis University Kubiske earned an M.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.

Zimmer became president of the University of Chicago in 2006.  Prior to his appointment as president he served more than two decades as a faculty member in the mathematics department and as an administrator at the University. As president of the university Zimmer chairs the governing boards of both Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.  He was the provost at Brown University from 2002 to 2006.  Additionally, he serves on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Zimmer served on the president’s committee on the National Medal of Science until 2010.  A specialist in the mathematical fields of geometry — particularly ergodic theory, Lie groups, and differential geometry — Zimmer is the author of two books and more than 80 mathematical research articles.  In addition to his A.B. from Brandeis University, Zimmer earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1975.

President Obama said, “These dedicated individuals bring a wealth of experience and talent to their new roles and I am proud to have them serve in this Administration.  I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Categories: Alumni, International Affairs

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