General Colin L. Powell, founder, advisory council chair, and distinguished scholar of the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, was born in Harlem and raised in the South Bronx. He graduated from The City College of New York in 1958 and went on to earn an MBA from The George Washington University, and to build a distinguished military career in Vietnam, Korea, and the United States. His military career includes service as President Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, and as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Forces Command.
General Powell was the first African-American and the youngest officer ever to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest ranking officer in the United States military, under both President George H. W. Bush and President William Jefferson Clinton. In 1995, General Powell wrote and published his autobiography, My American Journey, and in 1997, founded America’s Promise, a collaborative network that builds on the collective power of communities and volunteerism to assist American youth to meet their potential. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed him Secretary of State, a position that placed him at the head of America's foreign policy and in which he served from 2001–2005.