Trailblazing Ambassador, Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas Creates Next Generation of Diplomats

Diversifying Diplomacy by United States Diplomat and University Professor Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas

In her new memoir Diversifying Diplomacy (Potomac Books, 2017), Ambassador Harriet Lee Elam-Thomas shares the story of her life as a young black woman who distinguished herself with a diplomatic career at a time when few colleagues looked like her.

Diversifying Diplomacy” is the timely narrative of an African American woman weaned in black Boston on family pride and ambition, liberated through education, inspired by civil rights battles, and mentored to the top by fellow travelers and battle-scarred elders,” said Milton Coleman, retired senior editor of the Washington Post. “Hers is a great American story. It is fact, not fiction. It’s real.”

Ambassador Elam-Thomas’s memoir is a firsthand account of her decades-long career in the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service, recounting her experiences of making U.S. foreign policy, culture, and values understood abroad. Elam-Thomas served as a United States ambassador to Senegal (2000–2002) and retired with the rank of career minister after forty-two years as a diplomat.

Kirkus Reviews called the book “an informative, behind-the-scenes look at one black woman’s rise through the ranks of the Foreign Service when few others like her were serving as diplomats.”

Diversifying Diplomacy” presents the journey of this successful woman, who not only found herself confronted by some of the world’s heftier problems but also helped ensure that new shepherds of honesty and authenticity would follow in her international footsteps for generations to come. It covers her current work to ensure that future generations of diplomats are a more diverse and empowered group as the director of the University of Florida Diplomacy Program.


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