Thomas Niblock
07BA, 07BBA

Young Alumni 2016

Thomas Niblock

Thomas Niblock, 07BA, 07BBA—a globe-trotting diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service—has already made a name for himself in the realm of international relations in the short time since graduation from the University of Iowa.

The Iowa native, who joined the Foreign Service in 2009, took his first steps on this multinational journey while still at the UI. Not only did he pursue degrees in economics and religious studies, but he also participated in the honors program and was a collegiate scholar in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business. In addition, he received the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship in 2005 and the Hancher-Finkbine Medallion Student Award in 2007.

These awards and experiences helped Niblock move from being a UI student to representing the United States overseas. He says, "My majors in business and liberal arts allowed me to take a range of courses, which helped provide a good foundation for my career as a generalist in the Foreign Service. I also was able to travel overseas for the first time, and that experience got me interested in careers abroad."

After graduating with honors, Niblock earned a master's degree in public affairs in 2009 from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. He took his first job as a staff assistant to the U.S. Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.

"I have high confidence he will deservedly rise to much higher ranks within the Foreign Service based on his quick mastery of complex issues, excellent interpersonal skills, and eagerness to continue building his knowledge."

A few years later, the young diplomat served again as staff assistant to the U.S. Ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and, in 2013, he went to work in the Office of Taiwan Coordination at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. In this capacity, he handled all aspects of U.S.-Taiwan relations, including political-military affairs, economic affairs, and high-level visits and dialogues. In particular, he managed the preparations for the April 2014 visit of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator to Taipei, the first U.S. cabinet-level visit to Taiwan in 14 years.

"Tom has proven himself to be a highly capable, insightful, and proactive member of our team," says Christoper J. Beede, the now-retired former director of the Office of Taiwan Coordination. "I have high confidence he will deservedly rise to much higher ranks within the Foreign Service based on his quick mastery of complex issues, excellent interpersonal skills, and eagerness to continue building his knowledge."

Though his professional life has taken him to the other side of the globe, Niblock—who currently works in the Office of International Religious Freedom in Washington, D.C.—still makes time to come back home to Iowa. During his stateside visits, he has returned to the UI campus to mentor students, lecture on U.S. foreign policy, host dinners for honors students, and speak at the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council. He also is a member of the Tippie College's Young Alumni Board and served as the founding president of the Iowa Honors Program Advisory Board.

According to UI Associate Provost and Dean Downing Thomas, Niblock's global outlook makes him "an outstanding role model for today's globally engaged students." The university recognized Niblock's exemplary accomplishments by awarding him both the Tippie College of Business Young Alumnus of the Year Award and the Honors Program Award for Alumni and Friends in 2014.

Throughout his impeccable career, Thomas Niblock has amassed an outstanding record and brand of excellence that will distinguish his foreign policy work for years to come.