Hill, Christopher Robert, 1952-
Christopher Robert Hill (born August 10, 1952) is an American diplomat who is currently the Chief Advisor to the Chancellor for Global Engagement and Professor of the Practice in Diplomacy at the University of Denver. Prior to this position, he was the Dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University, a position he held from September 2010 to December 2017.
Hill's father was a diplomat in the Foreign Service: Hill was born in Paris, and as a child, he traveled with his family to many countries. After American diplomats were expelled from Haiti, Hill's family moved to Little Compton, Rhode Island where Hill attended Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, graduating in 1970. He then went on to study at Bowdoin College, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics in 1974.
Hill was a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon from 1974 to 1976. Hill credits his work with the Peace Corps for teaching him his first lessons in diplomacy. As a volunteer, Hill worked with credit unions and when he discovered that one board of directors had stolen 60 percent of their members' money, he reported on the malfeasance to their members, who promptly re-elected them because the board reflected carefully balanced tribal interests and it really did not matter to the members if the board directors ran a good credit union or not. Hill said the lesson was that "When something's happened, it's happened for a reason and you do your best to understand that reason. But don't necessarily think you can change it." Hill took the Foreign Service exam while he was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.
His early Foreign Service work included tours at the US embassies in Belgrade, Warsaw, Seoul, and Tirana. He also served on the State Department’s policy planning staff and in the department’s Operation Center. While on a fellowship with the American Political Science Association, he served as a staff member for Congressman Stephen Solarz (D-NY) working on Eastern European issues. He also served as the State Department’s Senior Country Officer for Poland.
He received a master’s degree from the Naval War College in 1994.
Hill later served as special assistant to the President and senior director for Southeast European Affairs on the National Security Council. From 1996 to 1999, he was US ambassador to Macedonia. During this time, protesters attacked the American Embassy in 1999 over NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia to stop Serbian attacks against the Albanian enclave of Kosovo. Unlike most overseas missions, the US Embassy in Macedonia did not have any US Marine guards for security. The protesters quickly overran the embassy’s perimeter and began to use the embassy flagpole as a battering ram. When a top State Department official called Hill during the crisis to ask where his Marines were, Hill sardonically replied he didn’t have any—but thankfully there were Marines at the embassy in Luxembourg.
Also during his time as ambassador to Macedonia, Hill doubled as special envoy to Kosovo (1998-1999).
In 2000, he was appointed ambassador to Poland, serving until 2004, when he finally got his wish after several years of lobbying and became ambassador to South Korea. In Seoul, Hill broke with diplomatic precedent by visiting universities and with groups expressing fierce anti-American positions. He gave speeches and had debates with US critics, which won him respect among some South Koreans.
Just eight months into his assignment, Hill was named head of the U.S. delegation of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea to discuss the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-il’s regime. He was then promoted to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in April 2005. He held this position until becoming Ambassador to Iraq in April 2009.
US President Barack Obama nominated Hill for the post of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq on March 11, 2009. After having faced opposition from Republican Senators such as Sam Brownback, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, Hill was approved on April 20 to be the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq by the Senate with 73 votes for, and 23 against. Hill extended his tenure in Iraq, totaling 16 months, postponing his own retirement from a career in diplomacy. While there, he was charged with reaching an agreement about the formation of an Iraqi-run government. Unfortunately, Hill couldn't break the months-long stalemate and called Iraq his most formidable challenge.
Hill received many honors and rewards during his time as a foreign service officer. He was a recipient of the Robert C. Frasure Award for Peace Negotiations for his work on the Kosovo crisis. He was granted an award from the Macedonian Government to be honorary citizen because of his service as ambassador in Skopje and building up the U.S.-Macedonian relations. In 2005, Hill was honored with the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award and in February 2008, Hill was awarded the "Building Bridges" Award by the Pacific Century Institute. The recipients are recognized as people who have enhanced relations between Americans and Asians and who exemplify PCI's commitment to building bridges to a better future. In 2012, Hill was appointed as an honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year Honours.
Hill's autobiography, Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy: A Memoir, was published in 2014. He is married to the former Julie Ann Ryczek, a school teacher and health and nutrition advocate from Treasure Island, Florida. He has three grown children, Nathaniel, Amelia and Clara.
|referencedIn||Presidential Records Series (PRS) Files, ca. 1993 - ca. 2001||William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum|
|creatorOf||Records of the National Security Council Southeast Europe Affairs Office (Clinton Administration), ca. 1999 - ca. 2001. Christopher Hill's Files, ca. 1999 - ca. 2000||William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum|
|referencedIn||Records of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1921 - 2008. Chronological Reading Files, 4/1/2004 - 9/30/2013||National Archives Library, National Archives Records Administration|
|alumnusOrAlumnaOf||Moses Brown School||corporateBody|
|alumnusOrAlumnaOf||Naval War College (U.S.)||corporateBody|
|memberOf||Peace Corps (U.S.)||corporateBody|
|subordinateOf||Solarz, Stephen J.||person|
|employeeOf||United States. Department of State||corporateBody|
|employeeOf||United States. Foreign Service||corporateBody|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Foreign service officers|