Uzra Zeya is a veteran diplomat who has served in the State Department for nearly three decades in various positions.
Uzra Zeya is an Indian American diplomat, who has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to be his Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights. Prior to returning to the Department of State, where she served for nearly three decades, the veteran diplomat worked as the CEO and President of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, a nonprofit that works to end violent conflict and promotes peace globally.
Zeya joined the Department of State in 1990, a year after she graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
During her nearly three-decade-long stint at the State Department, Zeya served in a number of roles, including as Chargé d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy in Paris from 2014 to 2017; as Acting Assistant Secretary and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, from 2012 to 2014; and as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Secretary of State from 2011 to 2012. She has served as U.S. diplomat in a number of capitals, including New Delhi, Muscat, Damascus, Cairo and Kingston.
Zeya’s other assignments include serving as Deputy Executive Secretary to the Secretary of State, Director of the Executive Secretariat Staff, and as UN General Assembly Coordinator.
Her experience and areas of expertise include the Near East, South Asian, Europe, human rights and multilateral affairs.
Zeya left the State Department in the summer 2018, alleging that Trump administration was bent on reversing decades of gains made by minorities and women under secretaries like Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton.
In an article published by Politico, she wrote that “a quieter trend unfolded” under Trump’s first Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “the exclusion of minorities from top leadership positions in the State Department and embassies abroad.”
After leaving the State Department, Zeya served as a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and as a Senior Advisor at Albright Stonebridge Group.
At Georgetown University, her alma mater, she serves on the Board of Advisors of the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. She also taught diplomatic tradecraft and U.S.-European relations at the school.
Zeya, who speaks French, Arabic and Spanish, received the Légion d’honneur, France’s highest civilian honor.
Zeya’s parents are immigrants from the Champaran region in Bihar. They came to the United States more than five decades ago. In 2011, while working as a minister counselor at the U.S. embassy in New Delhi, she had visited the state.
Read more on Uzra Zeya:
Biden names Indian American Uzra Zeya as under secretary at State Department (January 16, 2021)