When 43-year-old Samantha Power was appointed to be America's ambassador to the U.N., we sent around a collective high-five for all womankind. Then, as soon as we settled down for a second, we realized we wanted to find out more about President Obama's foreign policy pro who's now tasked with protecting the world's citizens from human rights violations. Vogue recently published a lengthy interview with the ambassador, and just as we suspected, Power is smart, funny, compassionate, and the very definition of a role model.
Her career kicked off in an impressive way that proves Power is a complete self-starter — after graduating from Yale, she traveled to war-torn Sarajevo to become a freelance war correspondent, reporting on the hellish conditions for Bosnian muslims, and, ironically, the U.N. peacekeeping force's inability to protect them. You could say it lit a fire in the young journalist, because she eventually made her way to Harvard Law School to study international law — or, more accurately, the breakdown of international law — and penned a paper on the Rwandian genocide that evolved into a Pulitzer Prize-winning book.
Not surprisingly, Power didn't take any breaks after her first major success. Instead, she wooed a certain promising young senator from Illinois into hiring her as a foreign policy advisor. One winning presidential campaign later, and she found herself immersed in the Obama administration and Washington politics, a place that doesn't come without its drama. She was quickly thrown into the media fire during the fight over military action in Libya, but she credits her conscience with keeping her head in the game. "I'm relieved that after all these years doing atrocity work I still cry my eyes out every time I read the paper in the morning," she told Vogue. "It's surprising, actually."
Now that she's made it to the upper echelon of foreign policy work (the United Nations, that is), she's starting to struggle with that little thing we call balance — she just so happens to have a husband and two young children. And, not that we're happy to hear her strife, but it is comforting to know that even a super power like Samantha Power gets conflicted about that whole "lean in" thing. "The work-life balance is the thing I struggle with most," she said. "When this job came available, it was such an incredible opportunity to work so closely with the president. But everything’s a cost-benefit, right? And the benefits of this and the influence of this job are sufficiently great that there were more costs I was willing to take on the family side."
Of course, it's worth mentioning that there are certain perks available to her that most working moms could never dream of — namely a penthouse apartment near the office, cars and nannies to coordinate childcare, and a clear end to the chaos of it all. When asked about life after Obama's term is over, she said, "I think about it every day, when Rian will be four and Declan will be eight. It's just my sense of when a different kind of prioritization can kick in." For the time being, however, we know we'll be looking to Power for constant insight and motivation. Is it too soon to say "Move over, Sheryl Sandberg?" (Vogue)
Photo: Via Vogue.