Ms. Gayleatha B. Brown, Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service, was sworn in as the new U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Benin by Dr. Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, amidst numerous relatives, friends and colleagues on July 25, 2006 in the Department of State’s Benjamin Franklin Reception Room, Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Brown attributed her success to hard work, excellence and many “helping hands” along the way from the beautiful hills of West Virginia to the present, including her parents: Mr. David L. and Mrs. Nellie Brown; brothers: Messrs. David L. II, Curtis, Jerome and Dennis Brown; mentor Minnie Belle Veal; Aunt Arneitha and Uncle William Scott; and Cousin Minnie Woods. She also cited other relatives, teachers, mentors, and many friends and colleagues, including Foreign Service Nationals.
She most recently served as Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa. The Ambassador also served as the U.S. Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General and concurrently as the U.S. Deputy Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France. She was Chief of the Economic and Commercial Sections at the U.S. Embassies in Harare, Zimbabwe, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Other tours of duty have included Desk Officer for Canada and also Senegal, Guinea and Mauritania, Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Brown was an Economic Officer/Regional United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Representative and Finance and Development Officer at the U.S. Embassies in Paris and Abidjan, respectively. She also has represented the Department of State at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Export Credit Arrangement negotiations as Desk Officer for the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) in the Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB). Before joining the Department of State, Ambassador Brown was a Special Assistant to the USAID Assistant Administrator for Africa and a Legislative Assistant in the United States Congress (House of Representatives).
She was educated in the Red Jacket Elementary School, Matewan Elementary and High Schools in Mingo County, West Virginia; and Edison Township High School, Edison, New Jersey. The Ambassador has BA and MA honor degrees from Howard University and conducted post-graduate work in International Relations at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), both in Washington, D.C.
Ambassador Brown is a Lady of the Golden Horseshoe (West Virginia state academic honor), among the first women Rotarians in Tanzania, a charter member of the New Jersey Edison Township High School Alumni Hall of Fame, and recipient of two Department of State Superior Honor Awards, a Meritorious Honor Award and a Presidential Meritorious Service Award. She is an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority and Sandown Rotary Club in Johannesburg, South Africa. English, French and KiSwahili are her languages.
Ms. Brown writes poetry, enjoys reading (particularly mystery novels), and loves dancing, tennis, tai chi, and music (especially gospel, soul, jazz, classical). She is a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church (Pilgrim Circle) in Washington, D.C., Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, Pastor, and is associated with the Community Church of Iselin, New Jersey, Elder Arthur L. Jenkins, Sr., Pastor.