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Biography

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Julia V. Taft

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration

President Clinton nominated Julia Vadala Taft to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration on September 2, 1997. She was confirmed by the Senate on November 6 and took office on November 10.

Mrs. Taft, a leading authority on refugee and humanitarian affairs, has held senior positions in both government and the private sector throughout her career. Before assuming her current post, for four years Mrs. Taft was President and CEO of InterAction (American Council for Voluntary International Action), a coalition of 156 U.S.-based private, voluntary organizations working on international development, refugee assistance, and humanitarian relief around the world.

Her first exposure to refugee issues came in 1975 with the collapse of Vietnam, when President Ford named her Director of the Interagency Task Force for Indochina Refugees.

The refugee resettlement program which Mrs. Taft directed brought more than 130,000 Indochinese into the United States.

From 1992-93, Mrs. Taft was a consultant with the State Department's Office of Coordinator/CIS Affairs, where she was responsible for developing projects to assist families of Russian military personnel. She was also Director of the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance at the Agency for International Development from 1986-89, where she managed all U.S. relief responses to foreign disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, famines, civil unrest, and toxic chemical incidents.

Mrs. Taft was born in New York City. As the daughter of a U.S. Army surgeon, she lived in Germany, Colorado, and Texas. She graduated from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in political science, and also received an M.A. in political science from the same institution.

From 1970-71 she was a White House Fellow, serving in the Office of the Vice President. Other positions she has held include: Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (1971-73); Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Development, HEW (1973-77); Consultant to the White House Drug Abuse Prevention Office (1977-78); Consultant to the State Department, in which she helped design the Office of Coordinator of Refugee Affairs (1978); Project Director, New TransCentury Foundation (1978-79); and Public Policy Consultant (1982-85). She accompanied her husband to Brussels, Belgium, where he served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO (1989-92).

During her career she has received several awards, including: the Presidential End Hunger Award (1989); the AID Distinguished Service Award (1989); the USSR Supreme Soviet Award for Personal Courage, presented for relief efforts in the Armenian earthquake (1990); and the Flemming Award as "One of the Ten Outstanding Men and Women in Federal Service" (1975). She also served as Alumni President of the White House Fellows Association (1977).

Mrs. Taft and her husband, William H. Taft IV, have three children.

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