U.S. Ambassador to Chile: Who Is Carol Z. Perez?

Saturday, September 10, 2016
Carol Perez

Carol Zelis Perez, a career member of the Foreign Service, was confirmed July 14, 2016 to be the United States’ Ambassador to Chile. It’s her first such assignment.


Perez was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from Marymount High School in nearby Garfield Heights in 1971. She earned a B.A. at Hiram College in 1975 and subsequently a master’s in health care administration at George Washington University.


Perez joined the State Department in 1987. Most of her assignments have been administrative or consular in nature, with early postings as a special assistant in the office of the Under Secretary of Management, as operations officer in the department’s operations center, and as a consular officer in Madrid.


In 1994, Perez was made administrative and human relations officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. She returned to Washington in 1997 for a series of assignments, first as a supervisory general services officer, deputy executive director in the Executive Secretariat; then the following year as office director in the Secretariat staff office; and beginning in 1999 as deputy executive secretary. She was assigned overseas in 2001 as the Consul General in Barcelona.


Two years later, she was reassigned to Washington as Executive Director/Deputy Executive Secretary of the department. Part of her duties were organizing and staffing trips made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In 2009, Perez was named Consul General in Milan.


Perez returned to Washington in 2011 as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The following year, she had to defend the department after auditors found the United States wasted $200 million on a training program for Iraqi police. She was named principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the bureau in 2013 and helped coordinate anti-drug-trafficking efforts in Haiti, Ukraine and the South China Sea. In January 2015, Perez was made Director General for the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources, a post she held until being named Ambassador.


Perez and her husband, Al, have three children, Michael, Caroline and Marissa. In keeping with her Cleveland background, she’s a Browns fan.


Perez speaks Spanish and Italian.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

State Department Certificate of Demonstrated Competence


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