March 11, 2019

Former U.S. Ambassador to discuss the need for more civility

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Former U.S. Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas, whose highly respected career as a diplomat spanned more than four decades, will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute this month and make the case for more civility in public life. 

While on campus, Elam-Thomas will present “Civility in Public Affairs” on March 21 during a luncheon in Student Center Ballroom B. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude by 1 p.m. 

Elam-Thomas is a professor and director of the diplomacy program at the University of Central Florida. She is the author of the 2017 book “Diversifying Diplomacy: My Journey from Roxbury to Dakar.” 

Media Advisory         

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover former Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas’ appearance. For more information, Cary Day at the Institute at or 618/453-4008.

‘Pioneer in the American diplomatic corps’ 

Elam-Thomas had a 42-year career as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, including U.S. Ambassador to Senegal from 2000 to 2002. She grew up in Boston and studied at Simmons College and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. As a diplomat, she represented the United States in Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Greece, Belgium and Turkey. She retired at the rank of career minister. 

“Ambassador Elam-Thomas enjoyed a rich and consequential career representing our country abroad for many years,” John T. Shaw, Institute director said. “Her personal story and her professional experiences are compelling and inspiring — and offer perspective and guidance for all of us.” 

Registration required to reserve luncheon seat 

The luncheon and lecture are free and open to the public, but seating is limited and advance registration is required for meal considerations. Registration is available online and due by March 18. Open seating will be available for those who wish to only listen to the speech and not be included in the meal. 

Will also visit with students, campus administrators 

Before the lunch, Elam-Thomas will meet with SIU Carbondale administrators and students, Shaw said. 

The event is part of the Institute’s Statesmanship Initiative, which examines ways to improve the quality of leadership in Illinois and across the United States. 

For more information on this event or other Institute programs, visit or call 618/453-4009 for more information.