This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.
Suzanne Radell, a senior policy adviser in NTIA’s Office of International Affairs, spent far more of her childhood abroad than she did in the United States. It’s one reason why she says she was drawn to work on international issues when she grew up.
Radell, whose father worked as a civilian Army employee after serving in World War II, was born in Istanbul, Turkey and has lived in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Lebanon.
She got her undergrad degree in political science from Schiller College in Paris but decided to return to the United States to obtain a Master’s Degree in political science from the State University of New York, at Binghamton. She is a dissertation short of obtaining her doctorate in international relations from George Washington University.
Radell, who is fluent in French, says her early exposure to foreign countries and culture helped cultivate her interest in international relations. Radell leads NTIA’s policy related to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which manages the Internet’s domain name system. She also represents the United States within ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC), advancing coordinated U.S. government positions on a wide range of public policy issues related to the Internet domain name system.
She has spent much of her career at NTIA. After a three-year stint at the National Association of Manufacturers as a legislative assistant, she began working at NTIA in late 1982 as a policy adviser on international telecommunications and information policy issues ranging from trans-border data flows and opening foreign telecommunications markets to competition from U.S. firms to international accounting and settlements policy. Radell also managed relations on these matters with the European Union and advanced U.S. policy in meetings of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Radell left NTIA in 1999 for a four-year post as the standards attaché with the U.S. mission to the European Union in Brussels. When she returned to NTIA in 2003, she was given the ICANN portfolio, a job that has her traveling frequently to attend meetings that take place across the globe.
Radell says she loves her job because she is never bored and is constantly learning new things and meeting new people. “I learn something all the time. When you look at the ICANN portfolio, you’re juggling at least three to six issues a day. You can’t get bored. I think that’s fabulous,” she says.
She also notes that she has had the good fortune to be involved in many of the “firsts” that NTIA has led, including helping to draft the Clinton Administration’s Global Information Infrastructure: Agenda for Cooperation, which was a platform for promoting the growth of the Internet; preparing the White House for the first G7 Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in 1995 and again for the Information Society and Developing Countries Ministerial Conference in 1996; and advancing the Administration’s E-Commerce agenda at the first-ever ministerial conference in 1998 on electronic commerce sponsored by the OECD.
Still, the job has its challenges. She was reminded of that in April at an ICANN meeting in Beijing, when the U.S. position on proposed GAC objections to new generic top-level domain names put her in the minority within the GAC. Still, Radell says she’s never one to shrink from a challenge and enjoys the back-and-forth of negotiation.