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UD graduate Steve Bondy is joined by his wife, Meghan, during his
administrative swearing-in as U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain
in January of 2022.
When Steven C.
Bondy went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October to
be considered for the position of U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of
Bahrain, it didn’t take him long to show his Blue Hen colors. In the
second sentence of his opening statement, he proudly noted that he and
President Joe Biden are both University of Delaware graduates.
The United States Senate confirmed Bondy in December, he was sworn in
at the end of January, and he and his wife, Meghan, will be relocating
to Bahrain in early February. The ambassadorship marks the zenith of
Bondy’s long and successful career in the U.S. Department of State and
Roles that he held previously include chargé d' affaires and deputy
chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in the United Arab Emirates
(2017-2020), foreign policy adviser to the commanding general of the
U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (2013-2016) and political/economic
counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Bahrain (2004-2007). He also served in
two war zones, at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan (2016-17), and
in Baghdad, Iraq (2009-10).
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Steven Bondy (right) stands with then-Vice President Joe Biden in Baghdad in 2009.
Bondy is only the third UD graduate to become a U.S. ambassador, the
first, Joseph A. Mendenhall (Class of 1940), served as Ambassador to
Madagascar from 1972 to 1975; the second, Clyde Bishop (master’s and
doctorate at UD), served as Ambassador to the Marshall Islands from 2006
through 2009. Bondy also is only the second U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain
of Jewish ancestry.
As a high school senior in Livingston, New Jersey, the only thing
certain to Bondy was that he wanted to study political science at the
University of Delaware. “I received a world-class education at UD; it’s
the place where I found my path in life,” he says. While his high
school classmate Chris Christie (Class of 1984) already seemed to have
his game plan in place when he arrived at UD — Christie was president of
student government in 1984 and from 2000 to 2018 was governor of New
Jersey — Bondy didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do.
“If you had said ‘foreign service’ to me back then, I might have
thought of the Foreign Legion,” Bondy said, ruefully. But he knew he
wanted to travel and knew that he wanted to learn more about the world.
Thanks to professors like Mark J. Miller, Emma Smith Morris Professor
Emeritus, and the late James R. Soles, Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
Bondy learned about opportunities both inside and outside of government
to work internationally. He took advantage of experiential learning
programs, including a study abroad to the United Kingdom and an
internship in the Wilmington office of then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden in the
spring of 1984.
“When I mention this to people in D.C. today, they can’t believe I interned with President Biden,” Bondy said.
Steven Bondy shows the UD colors in a celebration at his family home after he was sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain.
During his senior year at UD, Bondy
lived in the French House (La Maison Francaise), a special-interest
housing option at the time. French was the only language allowed in this
rambling old Victorian on West Main Street, and it was there that
Bondy’s foreign language fluency took off. Today, he speaks Arabic and
French and also is conversant in Farsi, Turkish and
Miller and Soles frequently served as a sounding board throughout
Bondy’s undergraduate years. He excelled in economics as well as
political science and upon the advice of these professors decided to
pursue his master’s in economics. Bondy graduated from the College of
Arts and Sciences and then what is now the Alfred Lerner College of
Business and Economics. Upon receiving his graduate degree,
Bondy spent several years working for a large American electronics
and fiber optics company, proving himself and waiting patiently for his
first foreign assignment. When his boss told him: “Keep up the good work
and we’ll send you overseas in 20 years,” Bondy joined the State
Department and never looked back.
“The U.S. Foreign Service has been an amazing place to spend my
career,” he said. “It gives you such a varied look at life, and by
working in so many different places your horizons are widened. My wife,
Meghan, and our children, Rachel and Drew, also were enriched by
traveling the world and gaining this global perspective.
“And as I get older, my appreciation for the public service dimension
of the job has deepened. My contributions have a direct impact on the
security of our nation.”
Bondy’s goals as U.S. ambassador to
Bahrain include, first and foremost, the safety and security of the
approximately 10,000 Americans who live and work there, including a
large U.S. military presence. Additionally, Bondy will work to continue
strengthening relations between Bahrain and Israel after the 2020
Abraham Accords agreement, which normalized relations between the two
countries, and relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
He also will focus on advancing human rights and political
participation in Bahrain, particularly in light of the upcoming 2022
parliamentary elections. “We approach this work from a position of
humility,” Bondy said. “We aren’t preaching; we are looking to have open
and honest exchanges on these important matters.”
The couple plans to spend weekends and down time from work
interacting with embassy staff, members of the U.S. expatriate and
military community, and Bahrainis. (Meghan is a business development
manager with a financial technology company, focusing on European-based
“What I have missed the most since my last tenure in Bahrain are the
people,” Bondy said. “They are so warm and welcoming. Every positive
interaction that a Bahraini has with an American — whether it’s me or
the American family who lives in their neighborhood — further
strengthens our countries’ friendship.”
For those UD students itching to follow Bondy’s path, stay tuned,
because Bondy said he would like to see current embassy internship
opportunities expanded. He said he also plans to learn more about a
program that sends Bahraini students to UD.
For those students who don’t have their career plans neatly lined up
yet, he offered this advice: “First, rely on your advisers, like I did
with Drs. Miller and Soles. If you don’t feel like the relationship is
working, go get another adviser. But, whatever you do, don’t go it
alone. Secondly, don’t ever forget that you are at a stellar
institution. Take advantage of everything that the University of
Delaware has to offer. My start at UD is what led me to this life of
adventure in the public service. It’s the thrill of a lifetime to be in
the position that I’m in now.”
Article by Margo McDonough; photos courtesy of Steven Bondy
Published Feb. 9, 2022