ABROAD FOR HER COUNTRY
Abroad for Her Country: Tales of a Pioneer Woman Ambassador in the U.S. Foreign Service
In Abroad for Her Country, Jean M. Wilkowski shares the story of her extraordinary career in the U.S. Foreign Service during the last half of the twentieth century. Born in an era when few women sought professional careers, Wilkowski graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the University of Wisconsin and then rose through the ranks at the Department of State, from Vice Consul to the first woman U.S. Ambassador to an African country and the first woman acting U.S. Ambassador in Latin America.
During her thirty-five-year diplomatic career, Wilkowski was sent first as a vice consul to the Caribbean during World War II, when the Department of State was "even taking in 4-Fs and women." She moved on to more challenging assignments in Latin America and Europe. For much of her career, she specialized in protecting and promoting U.S. trade and investment interests in such posts as Paris, Milan, Rome, Santiago, and Geneva. She also served during a revolution in Bogatá, attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, and the war between El Salvador and Honduras, when she called in U.S. humanitarian aid for 50,000 war-displaced persons. In 1977 she became coordinator of the U.S. preparation for the 1979 United Nations Conference on Science and Technology in Vienna. She worked closely with Notre Dame president Theodore Hesburgh, head of the U.S. delegation, and accompanied the delegation on its fact-finding visit to the Peoples' Republic of China.
Jean M. Wilkowski entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1944, accepting career assignments to nine countries on three continents before retiring in 1980. She has received six honorary degrees and is the only woman to receive the Foreign Service Cup from the Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired (DACOR).
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