A Foreign Service Trailblazer – Ambassador Ruth A. Davis

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Ambassador Ruth A. Davis received the American Foreign Service Association’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award in recognition of her distinguished Foreign Service career and lifelong devotion to diplomacy at a June 23 ceremony in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Room (for her speech and coverage of the ceremony, see AFSA News; click here to watch her acceptance speech).

Born in 1943, Amb. Davis received a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Social Work in 1968. She joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1969.

A trailblazer throughout her 40-year career, Amb. Davis was the first female senior watch officer (SWO) in the Operations Center (1982-1984), the first African-American director of the Foreign Service Institute (1997-2001) and the first African-American female Director General of the Foreign Service (2001-2003). She was also the first and only African-American woman to be named Career Ambassador, the longest-serving officer at that level and, upon retirement, the highest-ranking Foreign Service officer. She is also the first African American to be awarded AFSA’s Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award.

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