This post was written by Madison Abreu, IVLP Fellow at Meridian International Center. It is a part of a blog series highlighting and acknowledging the work and contributions of Black diplomats during Black History Month.
Pamela L. Spratlen is an established career foreign service officer and has dedicated her life to public service. She was born in Columbus, OH on July 14, 1954, and was raised in Washington State and California. After graduating from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Spratlen earned a B.A. in Psychology from Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1976. She then returned to Los Angeles where she served with the local organization Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and other public service organizations. She went on to earn an M.A. from the School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley in 1981 and in Strategic Studies at the U.S. Army War College in Washington, DC, in 2006.
Spratlen served as a senior consultant to the California Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget and Assembly Ways and Means Committees from 1981 to 1989 before joining the U.S. Department of State in 1990. She admitted that she hadn’t even heard of the State Department until college. In addition to her personal wanderlust and interest in the world after growing up during the Cold War, she said in an interview with The Politic that one of the main reasons why she decided to join the foreign service was because her father had been denied entry in the 1960s due to racial restrictive policies. It was important to her to live out her father’s dream and represent her country.
She started her foreign service career in Guatemala as an economic officer (1990-1992) followed by two multilateral missions including the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States (1992-1994) and the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (1995-1998). She served as executive secretariat and special assistant to the Counselor of the Department of State (1999-2000) where she helped facilitate official travel plans for then-Secretary Madeleine Albright and traveled to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow to assist with meetings between Albright and the Russian Federation leaders on the situation in Kosovo in January of 1999. Throughout her career, Spratlen has been committed to multilateralism and emphasizes the importance of collaboration in securing peace.
Her experience and skills made her an invaluable member of the foreign service and she has lent her expertise in European and Asia affairs in numerous positions in the State Department. She is also fluent in Russia, French and Spanish. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan before she was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan in 2014. In 2017, she spoke at the University of World Economy and Diplomacy said, “Let us think more broadly about how our interconnected web of peoples, of nations, of states can and does work together for peace, prosperity and improving the human condition.” Pamela L. Spratlen’s dedication to public service, diplomatic vision and accomplishments have helped organizations like Meridian continue to connect leaders from around the world and encourage global collaboration.