November 15, 2012

Rice family enjoys a 'fantastic journey'

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

This story was published on Dec. 8, 2008

click image to enlarge

President-elect Barack Obama poses with Susan Rice and her family after nominating her to be U.S. Representative to the United Nations at a Chicago news conference last week. Left to right are Rice�s mother, Lois Dickson Rice; Obama; Rice�s son, Jake Rice-Cameron; Rice�s daughter, Maris Rice-Cameron; Rice; Rice�s husband, Ian Cameron; and Rice�s father, Emmett J. Rice.

It was a poignant moment for Lois Dickson Rice.

At a news conference last week in Chicago, President-elect Barack Obama nominated her daughter, Susan Rice, to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a cabinet member of his national security team.

Cameras snapped and flashed. Reporters asked questions. Dickson Rice was there, with several other family members, soaking it all in.

''We all just wallowed in the occasion,'' Dickson Rice said.

While Dickson Rice has lived and worked most of her life in Washington, D.C., she was born and raised in Portland and spends three to four months a year at her summer home in Lincolnville, just north of Camden.

Her daughter's nomination, which goes to the U.S. Senate for confirmation in the coming weeks, has cast the spotlight on the accomplishments of a prominent American family and its sturdy Maine roots.

Dickson Rice's upbringing by hard-working, determined parents formed the foundation of her career in national higher education and, in turn, laid the groundwork for her daughter's rise in international politics.

Susan Rice, who was a foreign policy adviser on Obama's campaign and is a member of his presidential transition team, declined to be interviewed for this story but offered a brief e-mail response. ''My family has been a constant source of great strength and inspiration for me,'' Rice wrote. ''My maternal grandparents emigrated from Jamaica to Portland. They had little formal education, but working menial jobs, they managed to send all five of their children to outstanding colleges. My parents, in turn, taught me to always do my best and that no dream was too bold to embrace.''

Rice, 44, was assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1997 to 2001 and worked with the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997, during the Clinton administration. She was senior national security adviser for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. More recently, she was a senior fellow on leave from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

She is not related to Condoleezza Rice, current secretary of state.

A talented writer and speaker, Rice gave a rousing keynote address at this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration in Portland in January. She has a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford University, as well as a master's degree and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University, which she attended on a Rhodes Scholarship.

''She always excelled in school and developed an early interest in politics and public policy,'' Dickson Rice said of her daughter. It helped that she grew up in the nation's capital, where she went to school with children of congressmen and diplomats. She also worked as a page, intern and research assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives during high school and college.

Rice's father is Emmett J. Rice, a retired senior vice president at the National Bank of Washington and a former governor of the Federal Reserve. Her husband, Ian Cameron, is executive producer of ABC's ''This Week with George Stephanopoulos.'' They have two children, Jake, 11, and Maris, 6.

Dickson Rice, 75, is a former vice president of the College Board and a former advisory council chairwoman of the National Science Foundation. Today, she is a Brookings guest scholar in higher education.

Dickson Rice's parents, David and Mary Daly Dickson, were Jamaican immigrants who married in Portland in 1912, shortly after they came to Maine's largest city.

David Dickson worked as a janitor at Cressey & Allen, a company on Congress Street that sold sheet music and instruments. He started a community service club for blacks in Portland before World War II and later was active in the NAACP Portland Branch.

(Continued on page 2)

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