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Mount Holyoke College
Weissman Center for Leadership

Ambassador June Carter Perry

The Honorable June Carter Perry completed 25+ years of service with the U.S. State Department in 2010. She served as Chief of Mission in Sierra Leone (2007-2010) and in Lesotho (2004-2007), overseeing large work forces and broadly leveraging her extensive experience in public affairs to achieve multiple international development objectives while in service to the United States. She served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Madagascar and the Central African Republic (CAR), among other positions, including Senior Advisor to the Africa Bureau’s Assistant Secretary. She also completed assignments in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and France, and in the Africa Bureau. She coordinated U.S. strategy during cyclone crises in Madagascar and oversaw the evacuation of American citizens during attempted coups in the CAR.

Ambassador Perry has advanced international commerce in Africa through development and management of key relationships with leaders of industry and finance. She initiated the first Lesotho-U.S. Trade Mission in 2005, bringing Ministers of Finance and Trade to meet with Jones and Company New York, Levis, The GAP, and U.S. government officials. Through her engagement of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), Lesotho facilitated the creation of 50,000+ jobs in textile and crafts. The Ambassador brought Ambassador Robert Zoellick, former President of the World Bank, to Lesotho for meetings that solidified the U.S.-Lesotho business relationship. She managed two visits to Lesotho by President Bill Clinton, one with Bill and Melinda Gates, to build bilateral relationships and advance economic development in southern Africa.

Working with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Ambassador Perry negotiated for Lesotho’s receipt of a near $400M grant to improve business practices and enhance generation of a hydroelectric and dam system to increase water sales revenue to South Africa. The Ambassador collaborated in the world-wide “Project Red” initiative with Irish singer Bono and encouraged his relationship with U.S.-backed initiatives in health and entrepreneurial development in southern Africa. Ambassador Perry held regular conferences with Levis and GAP officials, and intervened to ensure continued involvement and sustained corporate responsibility.

In post-conflict Sierra Leone, Ambassador Perry worked to convince central players to renew their investment in a nation scarred by the “blood diamond” conflict. American agricultural, natural resources, and telecommunications firms met with the Ambassador and her team, and then began talks with Celtel and other local providers. In the agricultural sector, Ambassador Perry came to Washington, DC and held preliminary dialogues with Chiquita Banana corporate leadership. By the end of Ambassador Perry’s tenure in Sierra Leone, the company had researched large areas of land overgrown during nearly 12 years of war, as part of its renewed interest in agricultural investment.

The Ambassador’s successful re-establishment of the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone assisted in business and educational development. She launched a key U.S. Government assistance program through a $13 million grant for agricultural and infrastructural development which supported private firms’ ability to initiate projects putting Sierra Leone back on an upward trajectory. In addition to environmental protection grants to discourage deforestation, Ambassador Perry engaged Houston’s Anadarko Oil executives in Washington and in Freetown. The President of Sierra Leone sought her advice. With the Ambassador’s support, both the government and Anadarko took further steps. The technical team went on to discover significant oil resources that will benefit business as well as Sierra Leone through local training, employment and affiliation with American entities such as the Baylor College of Medicine and Habitat for Humanity.

Ambassador Perry is also known for development and events planning as Director of Public Affairs for WGMS/RKO Radio Corporation. Ambassador Perry held editorial and programming responsibilities for which she received RKO’s Superior Achiever Award. She earned the TIME Magazine/Harlem YMCA “Blacks in Industry” Award for her work in communications with RKO Corporation. As an RKO corporate manager, Ambassador Perry initiated the WGMS-FM Art Auction, engaging notable Washington area participants in fundraising and sponsorship. She raised money for the Kennedy Center through broadcasts for the National Symphony Orchestra.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago and the University of Chicago, Ambassador Perry is a much sought-after educator and speaker. She taught at the University of Maryland and A&T University in North Carolina. She served as a Faculty Fellow at Hamline University, in Minnesota, and as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow at the University of Chicago. She has received many citations from Howard University, most recently in October 2010 for participation as Keynote Speaker for the university’s national MBA Global Leadership Conference, sponsored by IBM and Intel in DC.

In 2001, Ambassador Perry became a decorated Diplomat in Residence at Howard University where she received awards from the State Department and the University for promoting diversity and national interest in the Foreign Service. The former Woodrow Wilson Foundation Visiting Scholar has spoken at Princeton’s Wilson School, Georgetown University and other institutions in the U.S. as well as at the University of Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone’s Fourah Bay College. Since 2011 she has been the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Ambassador Perry’s speeches to large audiences include presentations at Mount Holyoke College (2012) and the University of South Carolina Law School (2011), numerous State Department and university speeches at home and abroad, including the University of Zimbabwe, Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, a major international HIV/AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa (2005-6) and at the Fort Hare University Conference in Lesotho. She has testified effectively before the U.S. Senate, prepared testimony for Assistant Secretaries of State for International Organizations and African Affairs, and spoken to many groups of interns. Her remarks have been broadcast on and published in both U.S. and overseas media, including France’s RFI, Australian Broadcasting System, NPR, CBS, the New York Times and ITN.