Back to Officials Back to Barbados


Name: Palmer, Larry Leon
Current Position: Ambassador

The United States will soon have a new ambassador to the Caribbean island nations of Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. President Barack Obama nominated Senior Foreign Service member Larry Leon Palmer on November 1, 2011. Confirmed by the Senate on March 29, 2012, Palmer is the first Foreign Service officer to serve in this post since President Jimmy Carter sent Frank V. Ortiz, Jr., in 1977.

The son of a minister, Palmer was born in Augusta, Georgia, and graduated from T.W. Josey High School as valedictorian in 1966. He earned a scholarship to Emory University and graduated with a B.A. in history in 1970. Shortly after graduating from Emory, Palmer joined the Peace Corps and served as a volunteer in Liberia from 1971 to 1973, teaching high school biology, science, chemistry, physics and American literature. Back in the U.S., he received an M.Ed. in African History at Texas Southern University in 1973, and then began an academic career as assistant director of financial aid at the University of Virginia from 1973 to 1974.
Returning to Liberia, he taught history as an assistant professor at Cuttington College in Suakoko  from 1974 to 1976. He earned an Ed. D. in Higher Education Administration and African Studies at Indiana University in 1978 and then taught at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina, from 1978 to 1981.
Palmer entered the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. He served as vice consul at the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 1982 to 1984, and then as personnel officer at the embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, with concurrent responsibility for personnel posted to Asuncion, Paraguay, from 1984 to 1986. Returning stateside in 1986, Palmer served as staff assistant to the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs from 1986 to 1987, and then served a tour in Africa as counselor for administration at the embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone, from 1987 to 1989.
In 1989, Palmer became a Pearson Fellow, serving as assistant to Diana Natalicio, the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, with the task of promoting the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating faculty and student exchange opportunities in universities throughout Mexico, and serving as university consultant for International Affairs. At the end of his two years as a Fellow, Palmer served as personnel officer at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea, from 1991-1994, and then returned to the embassy in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as counselor for administration from 1994 to 1998. From 1998 to 1999, Palmer attended the State Department Senior Seminar. He returned to South America in August 1999 to serve as chargé d’affaires at the embassy in Quito, Ecuador, remaining until July 2002.
Palmer began his first ambassadorship on September 9, 2002, as ambassador to Honduras, where he served until July 2005. He was then named president of the Inter-American Foundation, an independent agency that provides grants to Latin American communities to foster economic development, serving until June 2010.
On June 28, 2010, President Obama nominated Palmer as United States Ambassador to Venezuela, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination. However, in September 2010, Venezuela announced that it would not allow Palmer to enter the country because at his Senate hearing Palmer had testified that morale in the Venezuelan army was low and that members of Venezuela’s government had ties to leftist Colombian rebels. (All nations have the right to approve foreign diplomats; for example, Vatican City in 2009 rejected three American nominees for being insufficiently anti-abortion.) On December 28, 2010, Venezuela confirmed the finality of its rejection of Palmer’s nomination, and the next day the U.S. revoked the visa of Venezuela’s ambassador, Bernardo Álvarez Herrera.
Palmer and his wife, Lucille, have one son.
Biography (Wikipedia)
Bookmark and Share