Date: 02/01/2012 Description: Black History Month 2012: Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater - State Dept ImageAmbassador Pamela Bridgewater has enjoyed a celebrated career as a United States Foreign Service officer who has led diplomatic efforts that helped change the course of world events. A native of Fredericksburg, Virginia, Ambassador Bridgewater earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Virginia State University, received a master of arts degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati. Before joining the diplomatic corps, she was a professor at Morgan State University, Bowie State University, and Voorhees College. As a professor, she encouraged her students who later distinguished themselves as states’ attorney generals, judges, academicians, and authors.

A Foreign Service Career Minister, Ambassador Bridgewater’s overseas tours include Belgium, The Bahamas, and Jamaica. She served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and was the first African-American woman to serve as principal officer in Durban, South Africa. She has the distinction of being the longest-serving U.S. diplomat in South Africa during the historic end of apartheid. At the height of the most recent civil war in Liberia, Ambassador Bridgewater was named Special Coordinator for Peace in Liberia. Her extraordinary accomplishments and leadership abilities led Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama to name her U.S. Ambassador to Benin, Ghana, and Jamaica, respectively.

A tireless public servant and advocate for women, children, and gender equality, Ambassador Bridgewater has won numerous commendations for her contributions to international affairs and public policy. She is a former president of the Thursday Luncheon Group and recipient of the U.S. Presidential Meritorious Service Award, and the Charles Cobb Award for Trade Promotion.