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Name: Spratlen, Pamela
Current Position: Ambassador


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of career Foreign Service officer Pamela L. Spratlen as U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan on September 18, 2014. If confirmed for the post by the full Senate, it will be the second ambassadorial post for Spratlen, who’s currently ambassador in the Kyrgyz Republic.


She was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised in Washington State and California. Her father, Thaddeus Spratlen, was a professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Washington’s School of Business. As a younger man, he also applied to join the Foreign Service, but was blocked by more racially restrictive hiring policies by the State Department at that time. Her mother, Lois Price Spratlen, was an associate professor in the University of Washington’s School of Nursing, the university’s ombudsman and the author of African American Registered Nurses in Seattle: The Struggle for Opportunity and Success.


Spratlen graduated from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles in 1972 and earned an A.B. in Psychology from Wellesley College in 1976. After graduation, she returned to California to work for Los Angeles-based Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and other public service organizations.


In 1981 she received her M.A. from the School of Public Policy at the University of California-Berkeley, and attended the U.S. Army War College, earning a Master’s in Strategic Studies in 2006.


From 1981 to 1989, Spratlen served as senior consultant to the California Legislature’s Joint Legislative Budget and Assembly Ways and Means Committees, advising them on oversight of the state’s $3 billion higher education budget.


In 1990, Spratlen joined the U.S. State Department as an economic officer, serving in Guatemala for two years. She served at the U.S. Mission to the Organization of American States from 1992 to 1994 and at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1995 to 1998. In 1999 she advanced to the executive secretariat and served as special assistant to the Counselor of the Department of State, working as a member of the team responsible for planning the official travels of Secretary Madeleine Albright. In that capacity, Spratlen went to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in January 1999 to help lay the groundwork for Albright’s meetings with the Russian Federation on the subject of the Kosovo situation.


She was assistance coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow (2000-2002) and then became Vladivostok consul general, a position she held from 2002 to 2004. She then spent a year as diplomat-in-residence at Hawaii’s East West Center. In 2005-2006, she was special assistant to the counselor of the State Department.


Spratlen went on to serve as director of Central Asian Affairs (2006-2007), during which time she was the deputy to the special envoy for human rights in North Korea. For six months she was acting deputy assistant secretary for Central Asia, and she served as director of the Bureau of European Affairs.


After serving as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, Spratlen was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic on April 15, 2011. In June 2014, she helped coordinate the handover of Manas Air Base, which had been an important transit base for troops and supplies going into Afghanistan, to the Kyrgyz government.


Spratlen speaks Russian, French and Spanish. One of her sisters, Pat Spratlen Etem, was a member of the 1980 and 1984 Olympic rowing teams.                                                                                  

-Danny Biederman, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

An Interview with Pamela Spratlen, U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan (by Jason Parisi, The Politic)

Official Biography

Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Committee (pdf)

State Department Cables 2006-2010 (WikiLeaks)

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