General Colin Powell

General Colin PowellDoctor of Public Service

For more than fifty years, General Colin L. Powell, USA, Ret., has devoted his life to public service, holding senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations. His deep commitment to democratic values and freedom has been felt throughout the world.

As Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, General Powell led major efforts to solve regional and civil conflicts across the globe. In each case, he used the power of diplomacy to transform unstable regions into areas where societies and cultures have the potential to prosper.

General Powell served under President George H. W. Bush and President William J. Clinton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the youngest officer, first ROTC graduate, and first African American to hold the position. In that role, he oversaw U.S. military operations during numerous international crises, notably Operation Desert Storm in the successful 1991 Persian Gulf War and during the 1989 Panama intervention. Previously, he was President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor.

Currently General Powell is a strategic limited partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and is on the board of Bloom Energy. He also serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The son of Jamaican immigrants, Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. He graduated from the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1958 with a BS in geology. At CCNY, he joined the Army ROTC program, discovering his calling and launching his military career. Commissioned as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation, he served for thirty-five years, rising to the rank of four-star general.

General Powell has won numerous military awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with three Oak Leaf Clusters), Bronze Star Medal, and Purple Heart. His civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and an honorary knighthood bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

He founded the Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service at CCNY, dedicated to developing a new generation of publicly engaged leaders. He is also founder and chairman emeritus of America’s Promise Alliance, which helps children succeed, and chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowships for emerging international leaders.

General Powell previously served on the board of Howard University.

He holds leadership posts with organizations overseeing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and serves on the board of the Smithsonian Institution’s African American Museum of History and Culture.

His autobiography, My American Journey, a bestseller, has been published in more than a dozen languages.