John R. Nay
University of Illinois at Chicago
Ambassador John R. Nay began his service as Diplomat in Residence at the University of Illinois –
Chicago in September 2012, immediately after finishing three years of service as the 13th U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Suriname. During his tenure as Ambassador to Suriname, Ambassador Nay emphasized the importance of human rights, freedom of the press, respect for law, and the value of protecting Suriname’s rich environmental diversity in both its rain forests and its marine areas. One of his best memories of his tenure in Suriname was when he and an Embassy and press team made four lengthy bicycle trips that traversed the entire width of Suriname and also went into the interior as far as the roads went. During their bicycle trips, Ambassador Nay and his fellow bikers visited Peace Corps volunteers where they were working, enjoyed meeting with Surinamers across the whole country, and highlighted the beauty of nature, the importance of conservation and environmental preservation, focused attention on the environmental devastation caused by illegal gold miners in a national park, and underlined the importance of fitness.
Ambassador Nay is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, holding the rank of Minister Counselor. Before arriving in Suriname, Ambassador Nay was the Consul General at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto, Canada. Prior to serving in Toronto, he was the Office Director for African Regional & Security Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. He joined that office in April 2003, after serving as a Senior Inspector in the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General. He served as Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, from 1999-2002, and as Regional Consular Officer for southern Africa based in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1996-1999.
In Washington, Ambassador Nay also has served as Deputy Director for Pacific Island Affairs, and previously as an analyst, working on Cambodia issues for two years and on Korean affairs for one year. Ambassador Nay also had previous stints as Consular chief in Taipei, Taiwan and in Calgary, Canada, as well as earlier tours of duty in Singapore and Taiwan. Ambassador Nay is language qualified in Chinese (Mandarin).
Ambassador Nay holds Masters Degrees from Andrews University and from the National Defense University. He has received three Superior Honor Awards and four Senior Performance Awards. A native of Michigan, he and his wife Judith Ashdon Nay, have three adult children and two grandchildren.