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June Carter-Perry is a former educator, diplomat, and U.S. State Department official. Her lengthy and multi-faceted diplomatic career included service as the U.S. ambassador to both Lesotho and Sierra Leone. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016.
June Carter was born on November 13, 1943, in Texarkana (Miller County). Her mother, Louise Pendleton Carter, was a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia. June Carter graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois, in 1965, earning a bachelor’s degree in history. She earned a master’s degree in European history from the University of Chicago in 1967. She soon married Fredrick M. Perry, who served as an official with both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps. The couple has two children.
Carter-Perry served as director of public affairs for WGMS/RKO Radio Corporation in Washington DC from May 1972 to October 1974. In that position, she had both editorial and programming responsibilities while also being involved with development and event planning. While at RKO, she started the WGMS-FM Art Auction, a project that utilized prominent Washingtonians for fundraising. She also raised money for the Kennedy Center by broadcasting the National Symphony Orchestra. In October 1974, she became special assistant in the Community Services Administration, a national anti-poverty agency. That experience was followed by her appointment, in September 1976, as public affairs director of ACTION. In that post, one she held until 1982, Perry oversaw public relations for both the Peace Corps and its domestic counterpart, VISTA.
Carter-Perry began her career as a State Department Foreign Service officer in 1983. Over the course of over twenty-five years in the State Department, she worked at U.S. embassies in Lusaka, Zambia; Harare, Zimbabwe; and Paris, France. Early in her career, Carter-Perry served as deputy chief of mission in both Madagascar and the Central African Republic. She also served as a senior advisor to the Africa Bureau’s assistant secretary. In addition, she served as director of the State Department’s Office of Social and Humanitarian Affairs, where she was responsible for U.S. policy related to the United Nations Commissions dealing with issues related to women and human rights. She also served as deputy director for public policy and planning in the Political and Military Affairs Bureau, and assistant to the deputy secretary of state. Carter-Perry also did a stint in the State Department’s Africa Bureau.
Appointed ambassador to Lesotho in 2004, she was the American chief of that mission from 2004 to 2007. While in Lesotho, she initiated the first Lesotho–U.S. trade mission in 2005. Carter-Perry’s work in Lesotho earned her an appointment as ambassador to Sierra Leone, and she served as head of that mission until 2009. During her years as head of the Sierra Leone mission, she oversaw the successful return of the Peace Corps to the country while also helping to start a U.S. government program that provided a $13 million grant for agriculture and infrastructure development. This initiative represented a major advance for the nation’s economy, offering major support for the country’s developing private efforts. Carter-Perry’s distinguished efforts in the State Department were recognized with a number of accolades, including the Diplomat-in-Residence of the Year Award and the Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.
Carter-Perry retired from the State Department in 2010. In 2011, she served as the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She had served as the diplomat-in-residence at Howard University in 2001. She also taught at the University of Maryland at College Park and North Carolina A&T State University. In 2013, she taught at the University of Missouri, where she delivered the Distinguished Monroe-Paine Lecture for the Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs. In 2014, Carter-Perry served as a guest lecturer at the University of Utah’s law school. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Africare, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the people of Africa.
For additional information:
“Ambassador June Carter Perry.” Mount Holyoke College. https://www.mtholyoke.edu/wcl/events/ambassador-june-carter-perry (accessed June 7, 2016).
“Ambassador June Carter Perry (Ret.).” Africare. https://www.africare.org/who-we-are/board-of-directors/ambassador-june-carter-perry-ret/ (accessed June 7, 2016).
“Biography of June Carter Perry, Director, Office of Social and Humanitarian Affairs.” U.S. Department of State Archive. http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/pl/ngo/30679.htm (accessed June 7, 2016).
“June Carter Perry.” BlackPast.org. http://www.blackpast.org/aah/perry-june-carter-perry-1943 (accessed June 7, 2016).
“June Carter Perry.” U.S. Department of State Archive. http://2001-2009.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/91290.htm (accessed June 7, 2016).
Williams, Helaine R. “Diplomat with Many Hats Joins Hall.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 23, 2016, pp. 1E, 6E.
William H. Pruden III
Last Updated 10/24/2016
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