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Marisa Lino '71
Marisa Lino '71

Growing up, international ambassador Marisa Lino ’71 never considered diplomacy as a career option until a PSU professor encouraged it.

Professor Frank Munk, a former employee of Czechoslovakia’s last non-Communist government, saw global potential in Marisa and encouraged her to think about the Foreign Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of State. A project interviewing people about current world issues for a student-run TV show piqued her interest, and the on-camera work gave her confidence to pursue the idea.

Marisa became one of the first women from Portland State to serve in the U.S. diplomatic corps, and built a distinguished 30-year career with postings to Italy, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Peru. She was named U.S. Ambassador to Albania in 1996, facilitating U.S.-Albanian relations until 1999. After her Foreign Service career, she was assistant secretary of international affairs for the Department of Homeland Security.

Even in a peripatetic career, Marisa’s PSU ties came back to her, sometimes in surprising ways. On assignment as a refugee coordinator in the Pakistan embassy, she discovered that two of her colleagues—an Afghan-American working for the UN and an American working for Save the Children—had graduated from PSU in her class; they hadn’t known each other in school, but they’ve been friends ever since.