Ambassador Eric Bost is currently the assistant director of External Relations for the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M University. Bost, a native of Concord, North Carolina, attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he earned his Bachelor’s in Psychology in 1974. In 1985, he received his Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of South Florida. After graduate school, Bost held management positions in human services in various states as well as Washington, D.C.
In 1994, Bost became the Arizona State Deputy Director for the Department of Economic Security, a position he held for the next three years. Bost led the initiative to provide youth, medical, and employment services to Arizonians who needed assistance. In Arizona, he was in charge of numerous programs that looked after the welfare of children, elderly, and the disabled. In 1997 he was named Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Department of Human Services. In Texas, Bost supervised over 18,000 employees in state and federal programs such as Medicaid, To Aid for Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which helped over two million low-income, elderly, and disabled people in Texas.
In 2001, Bost became Undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). During his five-year tenure at the USDA, Bost administered 15 programs that served the needs of low-income families including the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
Although he had no experience in diplomatic affairs, on July 20, 2006, President George W. Bush nominated Bost to be the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa. After confirmation by the U.S. Senate Bost arrived in Pretoria to head the U.S. Embassy and represent American interests in that nation. As ambassador, Bost focused on improving childhood education and health conditions in South Africa. He often visited schools around the country, donating books and other school supplies to students. On occasion, Bost toured South Africa with his wife Mary Brownridge-Bost, a healthcare professional who spoke in rural communities on how to effectively prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
While serving as ambassador, Bost faced public criticism from then U.S. Senator Barack Obama who accused him and other U.S. officials in South Africa of not being proactive enough towards combating the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Partly because of the criticism, Bost in November 2006 launched an HIV care and treatment facility in central Johannesburg called the Zuzimpilo Medical Centre. The center, jointly sponsored by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the University of Witwatersrand, was overseen by Bost.
On January 20, 2009 Bost ended his term as ambassador upon the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, and returned to the United States.