Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas

Director of the Diplomacy Program, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida

Trustee Harriet Elam-ThomasIn September 2005, Ambassador Elam-Thomas retired from the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Career Minister. During her four decade Foreign Service career, she demonstrated a life-long practice of bridging cultures. With unique vision and insight, Ambassador Elam-Thomas placed a human face on diplomacy. Her varied overseas assignments have taken her to Greece, Turkey, France, Belgium, Senegal, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire. Domestic assignments include Counselor (the most senior career position) and Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Information Agency (now a part of the Department of State), Foreign Service Personnel in Washington, The United Nations in New York and The White House in Washington, DC. Ambassador Elam-Thomas fulfilled her commitment to serve the national interest through public diplomacy during her overseas tours which included Greece, Turkey, France, Belgium, Senegal, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and she returned to Africa to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal from January 2000 to December 2002.

Her performance abroad brought unprecedented recognition from the Prime Minister of Turkey, cultural leaders in Greece as well as meritorious and superior honor awards from the Department of State. Additionally, Ambassador Elam-Thomas has been the recipient of four honorary Doctorates, from Simmons College in Boston, the American University in London, Suffolk University in Boston and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. She holds a B.S. degree in International Business from Simmons College in Boston and a M.S. in Public Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy at Tufts University. She was a Member of the Senior Advisory Group of the European Command and served three years on the Board of the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. She is a Member of The American Academy of Diplomacy and serves on the Board of The Institute for International Education, The Cultural Academy for Excellence and the Board of Cooperators at Simmons College. She was the 2007 recipient of the Director General’s Cup for the Foreign Service. That award is presented to retired career diplomats who have made significant contributions to the advancement of U.S. foreign policy during their service to the nation. She speaks French, Greek and Turkish.

Formerly the Diplomat-in-Residence at the University of Central Florida, Ambassador Elam-Thomas directs a Diplomacy Program at the University. Ambassador Elam-Thomas was born in Boston, Massachusetts. She and her husband Wilfred J. Thomas reside in central Florida.