Meet Carolyn Joy Ratzlaff Parker

Carolyn Parker is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer who joined the State Department in 2011. Currently, she is the Visa Chief at the U.S. Embassy Abuja, where she runs a multinational staff that is part of the largest visa processing operation in Africa. Prior to her assignment in Nigeria, Carolyn served as a vice consultant in Recife, Brazil, and as a third secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. In 2010, she received a direct commission in the U.S. Navy Reserve and she currently holds the rank of Lieutenant (03).

Born in Kenya and adopted by an American missionary, she came to America when she was five years old and grew up in Northern California. Sadly, her mother passed away when Carolyn was 16 years old. Consequently, she had to bring herself into adulthood.

Carolyn holds a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Syracuse University’s prestigious Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has a Bachelor of Science in Political Economy, a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in Management, all with a minor in French.

During Carolyn’s studies at the Maxwell School, she was a graduate exchange student at China’s Tsinghua University School of Public Policy and Management, and she was selected by the State Department for a coveted Pickering Fellowship. During this time she also served in Haiti as a volunteer logistics coordinator for NGO relief efforts after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Carolyn is a classically trained pianist and speaks fluent French, Portuguese and some Arabic.

We are proud of what she has achieved and recognize her as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent.

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