Plenary: Changing the Face America Presents to the World: Strategies to Diversify Diplomacy

Welcome Remarks – Dr. James Pellow, President & CEO, CIEE
Nov 16, 2020
10:45 am -12:15 pm

Plenary: Changing the Face America Presents to the World: Strategies to Diversify Diplomacy

Retired Ambassadors Pamela Spratlen and Johnny Young, joined by Angie Young, represented America’s interests at home and abroad for many years. They will share highlights of their careers in diplomacy, and what it will take for the foreign service of the future to reflect the diversity of America. A panel of alumni from programs that prepare students for careers in the foreign service, including the Rangel Fellowship, the Cox Foundation Diplomacy Seminar, and the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship, will offer their reflections and recommendations for diversifying diplomacy, and study abroad.

Watch the Recording



  • Ambassador Johnny Young, Angie Young, and Program Representatives
  • Pamela L. Spratlen, U.S. Ambassador (Retired)
  • Alexis Walker, Cox-State Department Diplomacy Seminar participant
  • Zakiya Smith, Frederick Douglass Global Fellow
  • Jeffrey Simmons Jr., Charles B. Rangel International Fellow


Stacy Benjamin, CIEE


Johnny Young is former executive director of Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a position he held from 2007 until his retirement in 2015. Previously, he served as a private consultant, contractor, and lecturer.

During his nearly 40-year career in the Foreign Service, in which he achieved the rank of career ambassador in the Senior Foreign Service, Johnny served as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia, the State of Bahrain, the Republic of Togo, and the Republic of Sierra Leone. In addition, he has served in various capacities in Antananarivo, Madagascar; Conakry, Guinea; Nairobi, Kenya; Doha, Qatar; and Bridgetown, Barbados. In 1979, Johnny was assigned to Washington, D.C., where he served as career development officer in the Bureau of Personnel and executive director for the Office of the Inspector General before returning abroad to Amman, Jordan, and The Hague, Netherlands. Since retiring in February 2015, Johnny teaches English as a second language and citizenship and sits on a number of nonprofit boards.

Johnny holds a bachelor’s degree from Temple University.

Pamela Leora Spratlen is a diplomat, public speaker and leader who served for nearly 30 years in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State.  Her policy and leadership experience includes 10 years in Central Asia, of which she served eight as U.S. Ambassador, first to Kyrgyzstan (2011-14) and then to Uzbekistan (2015-18).  She also served as Deputy Chief of Mission (Deputy to the Ambassador) in Kazakhstan (2009-11). In all three missions she successfully led teams that tackled a wide range of issues including, supporting Kyrgyzstan during a peaceful transfer of power between presidents, opening bilateral ties and advancing human rights in formerly closed Uzbekistan and opening cultural exchange opportunities in Kazakhstan.  Ms. Spratlen also served in Moscow, Vladivostok, Paris and Guatemala City.

Ms. Spratlen’s senior Washington assignments include:  Senior Advisor in the Office of the Inspector General (2018-19); Director of Western European Affairs (2008-09), Director of Central Asian Affairs and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary (2006-08); Special Assistant to the Counselor to the Secretary of State (2005-06).  In her early and mid-career with State she served in Guatemala City, Paris, Moscow, Vladivostok, Honolulu and Washington, including in the Executive Secretariat (1990-2005).   Before joining the Foreign Service, Ms. Spratlen s served for over eight years on the professional staffs of Committees of the California Legislature (1981-89), where she focused higher education.  She began professional life as a VISTA Volunteer in southern California.

Ms. Spratlen received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College and holds master’s degrees from the Army War College and The Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley.  Ms. Spratlen has received numerous Departmental awards and the highest civilian award from the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.  She was inducted into the American Academy of Diplomacy in 2019.  She is a public speaker focused on Russia’s near abroad and general issues of institutional leadership.  Ms. Spratlen speaks Russian, French and Spanish.  Ms. Spratlen was born in Ohio and raised on the West Coast in Washington state and California.