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Carolyn Curiel

BA, 1976, Communication; HDR, 2008, Liberal Arts

Carolyn Curiel has been a United States Ambassador, Senior Speechwriter and Special Assistant to the President of the United States, and an influential journalist at top news media organizations.

Before returning in October 2008 to her alma mater, Purdue University, she served as a member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times, writing opinion pieces on politics and a range of foreign and domestic issues. 

She recently completed planning of Purdue’s first public policy institute while Chief of Staff in the Office of the President of the University.

In January 2010, she joined the full-time faculty in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts as a Clinical Professor. Ambassador Curiel will establish and direct the multidisciplinary Project IMPACT: the Intersection of Media, Policy and Communication Technology. Project IMPACT will engage faculty in addressing key issues surrounding the evolving state of political communication and news media, both here and around the world. Ambassador Curiel also will begin teaching classes in the fall.

The United States Senate unanimously confirmed her in 1997 as U.S. Ambassador to Belize. There she advanced American interests on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, including security, environment, border disputes and trade and economic cooperation. She delivered long-stalled treaties and agreements on extradition, legal collaboration and increased counter-narcotics cooperation. She accompanied American and combined regional military forces on training exercises and war games in the jungles, waters and mountainous regions of Belize. She coordinated disaster preparedness and response to major hurricanes.
As White House speechwriter, Ms. Curiel concentrated on President Clinton’s “opportunity agenda” — education, health, environment and race relations. The President credited her for writing what many have called his most memorable speech, on every American’s right to equal opportunity.

Ambassador Curiel joined The Times Editorial Board in 2002. Another New York paper, The Observer, noting her role as the director of The Times’ elections endorsements, called her “the most powerful person in New York politics.”

In previous positions, she was an Emmy-nominated producer and writer for Ted Koppel at ABC News Nightline, head of the Caribbean Division for United Press International, and an editor at The Washington Post. Throughout her career, she has received numerous honors for her work as a trailblazer and mentor.

Purdue University awarded her an honorary doctorate in 2008.  The College of Liberal Arts previously honored her with a Distinguished Alumni Award. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, and she is a member of the somewhat secretive Judson Welliver Society of former White House speechwriters.