Alumni Profile: Lori Balbi

Name: Lori Balbi

Program: Ford Scholar, class of 1995

Undergraduate school: Lewis & Clark College

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

I lived and worked overseas for seventeen years while working as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State until my recent retirement. I took French all through high school and was an exchange student one summer.  After that I was hooked.  I knew my career would lead me overseas.

Living outside the U.S. is much different than being a tourist.  Understanding the nuances of a culture takes time, willingness and openness.  To live abroad you must be flexible and adaptable and most importantly not compare countries to the U.S.

Never think you can’t do something or that you are too old for a change.  I started university when I was 30-years-old with a five-year-old in tow.  I finished in four years and started my foreign service career at age 35.

Life motto:  What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Countries lived in:

  • Turkey
  • Poland:  Consular (visas) and Economics
  • Saudi Arabia:  Management Officer
  • of State, DC:  Office of Development Finance.  In this position I helped coordinate our response effort to the 2004 East-Asian Tsunami.
  • Afghanistan:  Commercial.  This involved helping American businesses negotiate the Afgan bureaucracy and help Afghan businesses export to the U.S.
  • Vancouver, BC:  Political and Economic Chief
  • Ottawa, Ontario:  Economic Officer
  • Baghdad, Iraq:  Political Military Officer coordinating with the U.S. Military departure and monitoring the Iraqi demining program the U.S. financed.
  • Naples, Italy:  Political, Economic and Commercial Chief