General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.)
Founder, Chair, and Distinguished Scholar
For more than fifty years, General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) has devoted his life to public service in senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations. His deep commitment to democratic values, diversity and freedom have changed the world we inhabit. General Powell was born in Harlem of Jamaican immigrant parents and raised in the South Bronx. He attended New York City public schools and the City College of New York where he earned a B.S. in Geology.
At CCNY he joined the Army ROTC program and discovered his true calling. General Powell served in the United States Army for 35 years, rising to the rank of Four-Star General, and serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President’s George H. W. Bush and William Jefferson Clinton. Under President George W. Bush, General Powell was appointed 65th Secretary of State and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. As Secretary of State, he led the State Department in major efforts to address and solve regional and civil conflicts in the Middle East, Sudan, Congo and Liberia, in the Balkans, Cyprus, Haiti, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere.
General Powell founded CCNY’s Colin L. Powell Center for Leadership and Service in 1997. The Center works to develop new generations of publicly engaged leaders and promote civic involvement at City College. He is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the America’s Promise Alliance, dedicated to forging a strong and effective partnership alliance committed to seeing that children have the fundamental resources they need to succeed. General Powell serves on the board of directors of the Council on Foreign Relations, on the Executive Leadership Cabinet of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and as the Honorary Chairman of the Education Center for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. He also sits on the board of the Smithsonian Institute’s African American Museum of History and Culture.
His best-selling autobiography, My American Journey, has been published in more than a dozen different languages. General Powell’s second book, It Worked for Me (May, 2012), an instant New York Times best seller, reveals the lessons that shaped his life and career. General Powell is married to the former Alma Vivian John