Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Distinguished Alumni: Robert Zoelick, Class of 1971

Distinguished+Alumni%3A+Robert+Zoelick%2C+Class+of+1971
Courtesy of Robert Zoellick

This biography is a part of Central Times’ 2024 Distinguished Alumni Ceremony coverage. To see biographies of all of this year’s inductees, click here.

Robert Zoellick always had a commitment to public service, stemming from his love of reading history and sense of good fortune growing up in America after the wars of the mid-20th Century; that sense of service was the driving force throughout his life.

Zoellick grew up in Naperville, attending Elmwood Elementary School and Lincoln Junior High before coming to Central. In high school, he began to lead, serving as Student Council President and as a co-captain of the cross country team.

Zoellick attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania to study history, economics, and international relations, preparing for a career in public service. He then received his J.D. from the Harvard Law School and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Zoellick joined the Department of Treasury in 1985, holding various positions, including Counselor to the Secretary of Treasury. During the George H.W. Bush presidency of 1989-93, Zoellick served as an Under Secretary of State and White House Deputy Chief of Staff. He returned to government in 2001, with an appointment to the cabinet of President George W. Bush as US Trade Representative  and then as  Deputy Secretary of State from 2005-2006. From  2007 to 2012, Zoellick served as the president of the World Bank, the leading international development and financial institution created by the countries of the world after World War II.

 Zoellick earned many awards in recognition for his work, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of State, the Alexander Hamilton Award from the Department of Treasury, and the Medal for Distinguished Public Service from the Department of Defense. The German government presented him the Knight Commander’s Cross for his work leading the US delegation during German Unification in 1989-90, and the Mexican, Chilean, and Colombian governments honored him for his work on free trade, development, and the environment.

Zoellick has also assisted various non-governmental efforts in foreign policy, international economics, and environmental conservation. In particular, he led the Global Tiger Initiative to double the 3500 tigers remaining in the wild. In 2020, Zoellick published “America in the World: A History of US Diplomacy and Foreign Policy”. (And he will give a copy to the school library for other students of history.) 

Zoellick has always proudly considered Naperville to be his hometown and still sees himself as a Midwesterner.

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About the Contributor
Evelyn Zwicky
Evelyn Zwicky, Online Managing Editor & Sports Editor
Evelyn Zwicky is a senior at Naperville Central. This is her second year on Central Times and she enjoys reporting on sporting events the most. Outside of Central Times, she is a lacrosse goalie and plays for Central’s team.
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