Examples of Excellence

From among the legions of outstanding diplomats who have served the United States since the middle of the 20th century, the following 25 individuals were chosen to exemplify the highest standards of the profession. The list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, or to suggest that others are not equally, if not more, deserving of such attention.


Rozanne 'Roz' L. Ridgway (1935- )

Rozanne “Roz” Ridgway joined the State Department in 1957 and persevered through years of gender discrimination and a presumption that women should not be assigned to positions requiring expert political knowledge or tough negotiating skills. In the latter part of her career, she became known as a shrewd, results-oriented negotiator of both bilateral and multilateral agreements. As Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Negotiations and later Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Canada, Ridgway was the lead negotiator at all five Reagan/Gorbachev summits. These high-level meetings brought the first substantive reductions in nuclear weapons and paved the way for a peaceful ending of the Cold War. Prior to those summits, in the early 1970s, Ridgway skillfully negotiated longstanding issues over fishing rights in Brazil, Peru and the Bahamas, and was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries. The 200-mile limit fishing rights treaty that she negotiated on behalf of the United States is recognized today by most nations. Besides her outstanding accomplishments as a negotiator, Ridgway served as ambassador to Finland in the late 1970s and to the German Democratic Republic in the early 1980s. In the years preceding her retirement in 1989, she was Assistant Secretary for European Affairs, the first woman to hold that position.

  • "Summit Negotiator: Rozanne Lejeanne Ridgway," in Morin, Ann Miller. Her Excellency: An Oral History of American Women Ambassadors. New York: Twaine Publishers, 1995.