The Volunteer Who Was the Very Model of a Modern Foreign Service Officer | Donald Lu (Sierra Leone)
(A portion of this Profile is drawn from a Peace Corps WorldWide publication of April 2022.)
by Jeremiah Norris (Colombia 1963-65)
Donald Lu served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, 1988-90, where he helped restore hand-dug water wells, teach health education, and conduct public health programs such as latrine construction, use and maintenance.
Donald graduated with an A. B. from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs in 1988 after completing a 158-page long senior thesis titled “The Involvement of International Peacekeeping in Providing Humanitarian Assistance. He later received an M. P. A. from the Woodrow Wilson School in 1991.
In 1990, Donald joined the U. S. Foreign Service and went on to serve in most every Office at the U. S. Department of State. Armed with a wide ranging competency in eight languages, including Chinese, Russian, Urdu, and West African Krio, his first posting was as a junior Political Officer in Peshawar, Pakistan from 1992 to 1994, then subsequently his appointments ran through to two Ambassadorships in the following years to 2018. After his first posting, Donald went on to be a Consular Officer in Tbilisi, Georgia from 1994 to 1996. He then became a Special Assistant to Ambassador Frank Wisner from 1996 to 1997, and then as Political Officer at the U. S. Embassy in New Delhi, India from 1997 to 2000, covering Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations.
Donald served as Special Assistant to the Ambassador for the Newly Independent States from 2000-2001, and then as Deputy Director in the Office of Central Asian and South Caucasus Affairs from 2001 to 2003. He went on to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission in Kyrgyzstan from 2009-2010, and in Azerbaijan from 2007 to 2009 where he served as the Charge d’Affairs at the U. S. Embassy from 2009 to 2010 at a time when the Office of the U. S. Ambassador was vacant. In July 2010, Donald was appointed Deputy Chief of Mission at the U. S. Embassy in New Delhi, India.
Donald was nominated to be the U. S. Ambassador to Albania by President Obama in July 2013 and was officially sworn in on December 17, 2014. Before moving to its capital in Tirana, Donald worked on the Ebola Crisis in West Africa as Deputy Coordinator of Ebola response. He held his Ambassadorial post in Albania until September 2018. In May 2018, he was nominated by President Trump to be the U. S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic and was sworn in on July 10, 2018. Then, in 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Donald to be the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, a post he formally assumed in September of that same year. As an example of one of his duties in this office, he went on an official visit to Nepal in November 2021 to review U. S. development activities, especially to convince its government to accept the controversial development projects of the U. S. Millennium Development Corporation.
Donald Lu’s professional career in the Foreign Service is emblematic of a Man for All Seasons in fulfillment of Peace Corps 3rd Goal, earning him a well-earned Profile in Citizenship.
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