Nancy McEldowney Appointed Ambassador to Bulgaria
By Anne McKay Garris
Nancy McEldowney, pictured above with her mother, Patsy Schamber, a Clearwater Beach resident, was appointed by President George W. Bush, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 29, 2008, to be the next United States Ambassador to Bulgaria. Nancy is a native of Clearwater Beach, growing up on Bruce Avenue where her mother still resides.
After graduating from Clearwater High School, Ambassador McEldowney earned her undergraduate degree at New College where her Latin Professor, a retired British Diplomat, planted a seed of interest in the field of diplomacy, and in the Soviet Union. In the early eighties, Nancy followed that interest to Columbia University to study national affairs. Here she attended the Averill Harriman Russian Institute. After graduation she earned an internship at the United Nations, and found the State Department "fascinating." In 1986 she became a staff member at the State Department, which led, in 1988, to her participation in the arms negotiations with the Soviet Union as a part of the interagency delegation working on START (Strategic Arms Talks with Russia).
She was the most junior member. "I was part of administrative support," she remarks. "That means I was the one sent to get the carbon paper."
Nevertheless, she was excited to be a part of the important decisions that were being made. "I could see things were changing," she says. "The Soviet Union was looking at modernization in a number of ways."
From there the Foreign Service sent her to Cairo for two years. "I started with visa work," she reports, "but in my second year I was aide to Ambassador Frank Wisner, considered one of the best in the service. It was inspiring to watch one of the greats," she adds, "and a beautiful experience to ride Arabian horses around the pyramids with an Egyptian history buff."
Outstanding in her memory is her work in the late 1990s with the National Security Council Staff dealing with NATO issues. She was helpful in preparing a plan for Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia to become a part of NATO. "They wanted to be members," she remembers, "and we helped them with a road map that is still in effect."
Along the way, Nancy met and married her husband, Tim Hayes, an U.S. Air Force pilot, now retired. They have two daughters, Jessica and Alyssa, adopted from Vietnam.
Now, she says, she is looking forward to promoting the friendship between Bulgaria and the United States. A period of being Deputy Chief of Mission and acting ambassador for three years in Turkey has given her a taste of what her immediate future holds.
Reflecting on the varied responsibilities she has held since graduating from college, Nancy reports, "I loved every job they ever gave me." Obviously this latest challenge of being Ambassador to Bulgaria is no exception.
Return to Current Edition