Susan Rice is in many ways a prototypical Obama administration official: young, ambitious and accomplished, with a reputation for being direct and — at times — confrontational.
But unlike her colleagues, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is embroiled in a lingering controversy, over what she knew and what she said in the days after September's attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Rice also is a minority woman serving the nation's first African-American president, who just won re-election in a campaign that relied heavily on minorities and women. And she may be in line to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That puts her standoff with Senate Republican John McCain of Arizona and others in a more complicated light, perhaps for all the parties involved.
Here's a brief biographical look at Susan Rice:
-- Rice, 48, was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her father, Emmett Rice, was a Cornell University economics professor and the second black governor of the Federal Reserve System. Her mother, Lois Dickson Fitt, is an education policy expert and Brookings Institution scholar.
-- Rice earned degrees from Stanford and later Oxford, where she was a Rhodes scholar, and entered politics as a foreign policy aide to Democrat Michael Dukakis in his 1988 presidential bid.
-- She became a management consultant at McKinsey & Co in Toronto. Then, in 1993, she joined the Clinton administration as director of international organizations and peacekeeping with the National Security Council.
-- Rice rose to special assistant to President Clinton as senior director for African affairs at NSC, then to assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
-- From 2002 to 2009, she was a senior fellow at the nonprofit public policy Brookings Institution, with a 2004 detour to advise the presidential campaign of Democrat John Kerry.
-- During the 2008 Democratic primaries, Rice was Barack Obama's senior adviser for national security affairs.
-- On Jan. 22, 2009, the Senate confirmed her to become U.S. representative to the United Nations. Rice is married with two children.