Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry Returns to CIE

In November, UMass Amherst hosted the third annual Salute to Service Awards at the Boston Harbor Hotel and recognized three outstanding individuals for their contributions to civic engagement and public service. CIE's Cynthia Shepard Perry (Ed.D. 1972) was one of the three who were honored.


Ambassador Perry served as the US ambassador to Sierra Leone from 1986 to 1989 and as ambassador to the Republic of Burundi from 1989 to 1993. She subsequently served as Executive Director of the African Development Bank. She was the first woman to earn her doctorate from the College of Education’s International Education program and was awarded an honorary degree by UMass in 1988 for her international work focusing on critical human needs. She is currently the honorary consul for Rwanda.


Prior to going to Boston for the formal award ceremony, Cynthia spoke at a CIE Tuesday meeting about her career and challenges that she had faced as a woman ambassador.  Her comments sparked a lively discussion about being a woman ambassador in Africa, the goals that she championed, and how she dealt with a variety of barriers to carry out her mission. Discussion continued afterwards at an informal lunch with graduate students and the Ambassador.


Ambassador Perry has also donated key portions of her official papers to the UMass Amherst Library where they will become part of Credo the digital depository in Special Collections. Making her papers publicly available will hopefully encourage students, especially women of color, to aspire to roles as international leaders.


You can read a write up here 

You can watch a video about her journey here