Colin L. Powell was nominated by President Bush on
December 16, 2000 as Secretary of State. After being unanimously confirmed
by the U.S. Senate, he was sworn in as the 65th Secretary of State
on January 20, 2001.
Prior to his appointment, Secretary Powell was the chairman of America's
Promise - The Alliance for Youth, a national nonprofit organization
dedicated to mobilizing people from every sector of American life to
build the character and competence of young people.
Secretary Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which
time he held myriad command and staff positions and rose to the rank
of 4-star General. His last assignment, from October 1, 1989 to September
30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the
highest military position in the Department of Defense. During this
time, he oversaw 28 crises, including Operation Desert Storm in the
victorious 1991 Persian Gulf war.
Following his retirement, Secretary Powell wrote his best-selling
autobiography, My American Journey, which was published in 1995. Additionally,
he pursued a career as a public speaker, addressing audiences across
the country and abroad.
Secretary Powell was born in New York City on April 5, 1937 and was
raised in the South Bronx. His parents, Luther and Maud Powell, immigrated
to the United States from Jamaica. Secretary Powell was educated in
the New York City public schools, graduating from the City College
of New York (CCNY), where he earned a bachelor's degree in geology.
He also participated in ROTC at CCNY and received a commission as an
Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958. His further academic
achievements include a Master of Business Administration degree from
George Washington University.
Secretary Powell is the recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign military
awards and decorations.
Secretary Powell's civilian awards include two Presidential
Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional
Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, and
the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal. Several schools
and other institutions have been named in his honor and he holds honorary
degrees from universities and colleges across the country.
Secretary Powell is married to the former Alma Vivian Johnson of Birmingham,
Alabama. The Powell family includes son Michael; daughters Linda and
Anne; daughter-in-law Jane; and grandsons Jeffrey and Bryan.