Diplomat in Residence
Ambassador Niels Marquardt is a former American diplomat who now serves as the first-ever diplomat in residence at Lewis & Clark College. This follows a long career representing the United States abroad. After leaving the State Department in 2013 after 33 years, Niels also led the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia as its CEO until 2017.
Other career highlights include service as U.S. Consul General in Sydney, Australia (2010–13); U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros (2007–10); and U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon (2004–07) and Equatorial Guinea (2004–06).
In all these positions, Niels led large, diverse teams working on complex policy issues including trade and investment promotion and economic development, global health, species and habitat conservation, international crime and counter-terrorism, and anti-corruption and democracy promotion programs, among others. The State Department conferred multiple Superior Honor Awards on Niels for his strong leadership in these roles.
Niels first entered the State Department in 1980 and ultimately served every U.S. President from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama. His earlier overseas assignments included postings in Thailand (twice), the People’s Republic of the Congo, France, and Germany. Under the leadership of Secretary of State Colin Powell, Niels led the Department’s 2001–04 “Diplomatic Readiness Initiative,” managing the largest increase in State Department recruitment, hiring, and training in decades and helping prepare American diplomacy for the intense challenges of the post-9/11 era.
Earlier in his career, Niels was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire and Rwanda (1977–79), teaching English at the National University of Rwanda. A life-long language learner, Niels speaks fluent French, German, and Thai, as well as passable Spanish and smatterings of several African languages.
Ambassador Marquardt also earned master’s degrees from the National War College (1994) and Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Management (1980). He is a 1975 graduate of Lewis & Clark College, where he developed a lasting love of the Pacific Northwest. The college recognized Niels’ career and accomplishments with its 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Niels is a proud fourth-generation Californian from San Diego, where many family members still live.
Niels was accompanied on all his diplomatic assignments by his wife and partner Judi, whom he met at Thunderbird. They raised four wonderful daughters—Kaia, Kelsey, Torrin, and Yannika—each of whom finished high school in a different country. Kaia and her husband Tim live in Tampa, where she runs her own business. Yannika works for a nonprofit in Portland. Torrin works for Standards Australia in Sydney. Kelsey and her husband Mark teach in Doha, Qatar, where they live with their children, Harper and Enzo.
Ambassador Marquardt serves on the GlobalPDX Steering Committee; on the board of the Portland-based International Youth Silent Film Festival; on Lewis & Clark’s Sustainability and Global Advisory Boards; on the American-Australian Veterans Scholarship Fund; and is a member of the Oregon Consular Corps. In his free time, Niels also volunteers around Portland as an Oregon State University Master Gardener. He and Judi also enjoy making home and garden improvements to their 1890 farmhouse near Multnomah Village.
Niels in the News
Niels Marquardt BA ’75 returns to Lewis & Clark as diplomat in residence after a distinguished career abroad.
Lewis & Clark President Wim Wiewel has appointed former United States Ambassador Niels Marquardt BA ’75 as the college’s first diplomat in residence. In the volunteer role, Marquardt will work to enrich the experience of students interested in international affairs, entrepreneurship, foreign language, and all other fields of study with global aspects.
Niels Marquardt ’75 has traveled the world as a career officer with the U.S. Foreign Service and currently serves as ambassador to Cameroon and neighboring Equatorial Guinea in western Africa.