Nicole Avant Biography
Ambassador Nicole Avant was nominated by President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by The U.S. Senate. On September 9, 2009, she was sworn in by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as 13th U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas, becoming the youngest as well as the first African American woman to hold the position.
During her formative years the Avant household was always filled with an eclectic array of guests attending elite soirees, charitable events and political fundraisers. It wasn’t until her teen years that Avant began to understand the significance of her parent’s visitors. On any given day, attendees included the likes of her God Father Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte or Muhammad Ali. “I just didn’t get it at first. One time, when I was in grade school, I told my teacher that Governor Jerry Brown of California had been over. She responded in disbelief, asking, ‘What was the governor doing at your house?’ Avant replied, “Just talking with my dad.”
During her tenure, Ambassador Avant pursued five key initiatives: Economic & Small business development, Education, Women's Empowerment, Alternative Energy, and raising awareness about the challenges facing people with disabilities. Ambassador Avant's push to move beyond the scope of traditional diplomacy brought forth unique events and programs that allowed experts such as Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone to advise Bahamian Educators, Earvin "Magic" Johnson's participation with The Bahamian Chamber of Commerce and Oceana's Andrew Sharpless to promote the importance of restoring the waters of The Bahamas. The human stories of high profile individuals created personal connections that sparked events featuring the likes of Shaun Robinson motivating young Bahamian women with her book "Exactly as I am", Holly and Rodney Peete discussing their experiences raising a child with autism and the Kennedy family lending their legacy to the now annual U.S. Embassy Nassau Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day- a sporting event for children with intellectual disabilities. In encouraging these key partnerships Ambassador Avant was able to further cement and celebrate the relationship between The U.S. & The Bahamas.
Ambassador Avant's successes in The Bahamas earned her a nomination for the Sue M. Cobb Award for Exemplary Diplomatic Service.
In addition to her service abroad, Ambassador Avant has a legacy of philanthropy at home. She has been an active board member for Best Buddies International and the Bogart Pediatric Research Center and in 2007 was named the Next Generation Leader by the American Cancer Society. Ambassador Avant has also served as an Academic Counselor at the Neighborhood Academic Initiative- a daily mentorship program for high school students sponsored by the University of Southern California.
Since returning to private life, Ambassador Avant has been recognized at the 20th Annual Trumpet Awards for her dedication to Public Diplomacy along with luminaries such as Mayor Cory Booker and Ted Turner. She was also given the Humanitarian Award by BESLA in October 2011.
Ambassador Avant is married to Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer and proud step-mother to Tony and Sarah.