Over the course of a 34-year career in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow became one of America’s most senior and well-respected diplomats. He has extensive experience in both Latin America and Africa, having served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Venezuela and Zambia. He also headed the State Department’s efforts in Latin America, serving as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. He retired in 2003 from the U.S. State Department with the rank of Career Ambassador, the highest position in the Foreign Service, which, by law, can be held by no more than five individuals at one time.
In 1993, President Clinton nominated Ambassador Davidow to be U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, a position he held until 1996. From 1996 to 1998, he was the State Department’s chief policymaker for the Western Hemisphere, serving as Assistant Secretary of State for that region. President Clinton nominated Ambassador Davidow again in 1998, this time as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Ambassador Davidow held this post from 1998 until 2002. After leaving Mexico in September 2002, he became a Visiting Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.
Ambassador Davidow joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1969 and began his career at the American Embassy in Guatemala. He later became the head of the liaison office at the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe and later returned to the U.S. to act as the Director of the Office of Southern African Affairs in 1985. He also pursued a fellowship at Harvard University. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, a position he held until 1990. After his ambassadorship to Zambia, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Africa. Ambassador Davidow spent many years involved in multiple negotiations in southern Africa — Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa itself — that helped bring relative peace to that region.
Since leaving the Foreign Service, Ambassador Davidow has served as President of the Institute of the Americas in San Diego. Established in 1983, the Institute of the Americas is a leading institution in United States-Canada-Latin America cooperation. The Institute, best known for its energy and technology programs, brings together business and government leaders and representatives of civil society in forums designed to seek ways in which public and private entities can collaborate, clarify rules and regulations so private enterprise can flourish, promote the development of infrastructure through public-private funding, and implement effective policies for managing economic growth in Latin America.
Ambassador Davidow is also an accomplished public speaker and author. He has published articles in Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs and authored two books, one on international negotiations and the other, The US and Mexico: The Bear and the Porcupine, a bestseller in Mexico and a prominent textbook at American universities. He speaks frequently on hemispheric policy and on Mexican developments for organizations such as the North American Forum, the Trilateral Commission, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the Pacific Council, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the InterAmerican Development Bank, and many university and other groups. He also served as an adviser to President Obama for the 2009 Summit of the Americas. He currently serves as Senior Counselor with The Cohen Group.
A native of Massachusetts, Ambassador Davidow received a BA from the University of Massachusetts in 1965 and an MA from the University of Minnesota in 1967. He also did postgraduate work in India in 1968 on a Fulbright travel grant.