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Profiles: Susan Thornton '85

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Susan Thornton '85
Deputy Director, Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs

For many Americans, the 2008 Summer Olympics was entertainment at its best, but for Susan Thornton '85, whose office serves as a hub for all official U.S. interactions with China, a bit more work was involved. Susan and her team of 20 worked with the Chinese government on anti-terrorism strategies and human rights issues for months before the games began. “It was a very busy time for me,” she says.

During “normal” times, Susan talks to the Chinese Embassy on the phone or in person “almost every day,” to discuss policy surrounding U.S. China relations. Now a 17-year veteran of the foreign service, Susan started out in the office of former Soviet countries, a good match given her Russian/economics double major, and later worked on North and South Korea. In addition to switching offices, she has also swapped homes, living abroad for twelve of the last 18 years.

The changes in environment suit her just fine, she says, and allow her the opportunity to understand the context of her work. “It’s important to push forward and improve America’s relations with the rest of the world,” she says.

Posted June 08, 2007