Condoleezza Rice ( KON-də-LEE-zə; born November 14, 1954) is an American diplomat and political scientist who is the current director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. A member of the Republican Party, she previously served as the 66th United States secretary of state from 2005 to 2009 and as the 19th U.S. national security advisor from 2001 to 2005. Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state and the first woman to serve as national security advisor. Until the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008, Rice and her predecessor, Colin Powell, were the highest-ranking African Americans in the history of the federal executive branch (by virtue of the secretary of state standing fourth in the presidential line of succession). At the time of her appointment as Secretary of State, Rice was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States to be in the presidential line of succession. Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up while the South was racially segregated. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Denver and her master's degree from the University of Notre Dame, both in political science. In 1981, she received a PhD from the School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She worked at the State Department under the Carter administration and served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe affairs advisor to President George H. W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification from 1989 to 1991. Rice later pursued an academic fellowship at Stanford University, where she later served as provost from 1993 to 1999. On December 17, 2000, she joined the Bush administration as President George W. Bush's national security advisor. In Bush's second term, she succeeded Colin Powell as Secretary of State, thereby becoming the first African-American woman, second African-American after Powell, and second woman after Madeleine Albright to hold this office. Following her confirmation as secretary of state, Rice pioneered the policy of Transformational Diplomacy directed toward expanding the number of responsible democratic governments in the world and especially in the Greater Middle East. That policy faced challenges as Hamas captured a popular majority in Palestinian elections, and influential countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt maintained authoritarian systems (with U.S. backing). While in the position, she chaired the Millennium Challenge Corporation's board of directors. In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution. In September 2010, she became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy. In January 2020, it was announced that Rice would succeed Thomas W. Gilligan as the next director of the Hoover Institution on September 1, 2020. She is on the Board of Directors of Dropbox and Makena Capital Management, LLC.