Goli Ameri (in Persian: گلی عامری née Goli Yazdi, born September 26, 1956) is an Iranian-American diplomat, politician and businesswoman from the U.S. state of Oregon. She is the current Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Diplomacy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. She is also the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. She ran for the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican in 2004, and is a former delegate to the United Nations. She was born in Tehran, Iran.
Life and Business Career
Ameri first came to the United States when she was 17 in 1974 to attend Stanford University. There, she earned a B.A. in Communications and French Literature and, later, her M.A. in Communications. She also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. At Stanford, she met and later married then-fellow student Jamsheed “Jim” Ameri, now a real estate investor. She became a United States citizen in 1989. She has two sons.
Ameri was founder and president of eTinium, Inc., a telecommunications consulting firm in Portland, Oregon. She is the author of over fifty market studies and wrote a bi-monthly industry analysis column for Telephony magazine. She has been quoted in such publications as The National Business Journals, The Oregonian, The Seattle Times, The San Jose Mercury News, and Internet Week and has been invited as a speaker and moderator to industry conferences worldwide. Prior to founding eTinium, Ameri was a director at U.S. Leasing, a former division of Ford Credit and Fleet Bank, in San Francisco.
She served on the steering committee of the Babson in Oregon M.B.A. program, and is a member of the Oregon Steering Committee on the Campaign for Undergraduate Education for Stanford University. She was a trustee and the Vice Chair for Development for the Catlin Gabel School, overseeing fundraising activities for the scholarship fund and teacher education. Ameri has also taught Junior Achievement classes in Oregon. She is fluent in English, French and Persian, as well as conversant in Spanish.
In October 2007, Ameri was named as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in the Northwest” by The NW Women’s Journal for her UN service and her position on the Advisory Board of the National Education for Women’s Leadership program at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.
Ameri received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on May 11, 2008. The award is given annually to 100 recipients to pay tribute to the experiences and individual achievements of immigrants to the United States.
2004 Campaign for Congress
In 2004, Ameri handily defeated moderate, small businessman Tim Phillips and conservative, software executive Jason Meshell by a 2-1 margin each to become the Oregon Republican Party‘s nominee for Oregon’s 1st congressional district, in a challenge to three-term incumbent Democrat David Wu.
Ameri’s campaign gained a great deal of attention from political insiders in Washington, D.C. because of her fast-paced fundraising skills. She was dubbed one of the National Republican Congressional Committee‘s “Super Six” candidates. She was also ranked by the Federal Elections Commission as the number-one Congressional challenger candidate in the country in total dollars raised for the 2004 primary and general elections cycles.
The contest received national attention when, late in the campaign, Wu admitted that he had been disciplined for attempted sexual assault of a female classmate while he was a student at Stanford in 1976. Ameri did not focus on the issue initially, but heavily pushed it in the closing days of her campaign. Wu won the election with 58 percent of the vote; Ameri received 38 percent, and Dean Wolf, the Constitution Party candidate, received 4 percent.
United Nations Service
In 2004, Ameri was appointed by George W. Bush as one of three public members of the United States’ delegation to the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, which meets annually in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the summer of 2005, President Bush appointed Ameri as the head of the United States’ delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, which is headquartered in New York City. There, she worked on UN Management Reform, the creation of the UN Human Rights Council and, due to her background in the field of high-technology, on the Internet Governance Portfolio. She was sworn in by then-U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton in September 2005 and served until the end of the session in December. She was confirmed retroactively by the United States Senate for this position on May 26, 2006.
Ameri has also spoken at events on Middle East issues, democracy promotion and UN reform nationwide, including a testimony before the United States Helsinki Commission’s Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe hearing, “The Iran Crisis: A Transatlantic Response,” as well as at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, the World Affairs Council of Oregon, and the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
In cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Oregon, Ameri organized and hosted a visit by eight East Asian United Nations Ambassadors as part of a public diplomacy trip to Portland in the spring of 2007.
Service as Assistant Secretary of State
On November 15, 2007, Ameri was nominated by President Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, succeeding Dina Habib Powell and presiding over the Department of State‘s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Bureau is largely responsible for the United States government’s public diplomacy efforts abroad. After a series of Senate hearings in January and February 2008, she was confirmed by the Senate for the position on March 13, 2008. Ameri was sworn in for the position on March 19, 2008.
As part of her duties, Ameri has traveled to different regions of the globe to promote cross-cultural understanding. Her first trip, in May 2008, was to the Persian Gulf, where she visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar to promote cultural and educational diplomacy in the region. In Dubai, Ameri met with alumni and officials of the International Visitor Leadership Program, which brings foreign participants to the United States each year to meet and confer with their professional counterparts. In addition, she met with Sheikh Hahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, UAE Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of Zayed University in Abu Dhabi. In Qatar, Ameri delivered remarks at Qatar University.
In late May 2008, Ameri traveled to Brazil to review U.S. public diplomacy efforts and meet with local leaders. In the capital city of Brasilia, Ameri met with Brazilian Minister of Education Fernando Haddad and Minister Eliana Zugaib, acting head of the Cultural Section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While there, Ameri also announced an additional $1 million investment for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ Fulbright Program and signed a new Fulbright Agreement with the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.
In June 2008, she traveled to Azerbaijan. During her trip, she signed an agreement on behalf of the United States with Azerbaijani Minister of Education Misir Mardanov to increase the number of Azerbaijani students studying in the United States. While in the capital city of Baku, Ameri also met with the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan, Mahmud Karimov and the leadership of the Academy’s Manuscripts Institute, promising American help in preserving the country’s ancient manuscripts. She concluded her trip with a meeting with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, where the two stressed the importance of American-Azerbaijani relations.
In July 2008, Ameri traveled to Indonesia to meet with educators, cultural experts, and alumni from U.S.-Indonesian exchange programs. While in the capital city of Jakarta, Ameri met with the Director General of Higher Education, Fasli Jalal, from the Ministry of National Education. Ameri also visited the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF) to meet with Fulbright Program alumni, board members, and staff.
Ameri appointed “The Nanny” star Fran Drescher as a United States Public Diplomacy Envoy on September 8, 2008, joining Michelle Kwan and Cal Ripken, Jr. as the third celebrity appointed to this role. Drescher will support American public diplomacy efforts, including raising awareness of women’s health issues, cancer awareness and patient empowerment. Drescher’s first trip was to Romania, Hungary, Kosovo and Poland.
Ameri traveled to China and Vietnam as part of her duties in September 2008. In China, she met officials from the Ministry of Education. While in Vietnam, Ameri opened a new consultancy and information office of the U.S. Institute of International Education in Ho Chi Minh City.
As part of the U.S. government’s Iraqi relief efforts, Ameri traveled to Baghdad, Iraq in October 2008, where she announced her bureau’s Iraq Cultural Heritage Project efforts to renovate and improve the National Museum of Iraq.
Ameri’s term as Assistant Secretary of State ended with the rest of the Bush Administration on January 20, 2009.
Red Cross and Red Crescent Service
On July 1, 2010, Ameri was appointed by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Diplomacy. In this position, she is tasked with increasing Red Cross and Red Crescent influence with policymakers and governments to better understand the needs of the people the organization serves worldwide.