At the time of her retirement from the United States Foreign Service in 2009, Ambassador Ruth A. Davis was the longest serving Career Ambassador and at the rank of Director General of the Foreign Service, had achieved the highest ranking position in the Foreign Service. She was also the first African American to do so.
Although born in Phoenix, Arizona, on May 28, 1943, to a former World War II soldier who later became a postal worker and a schoolteacher mother, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia during her early childhood. Majoring in Sociology at Spelman College, Davis was awarded a Merrill scholarship which allowed her to study in France for 15 months. While there she travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East.
Davis graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia in 1966 and then enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley where she earned a masters degree in social work in 1968. While at UC Berkeley she served as an intern at the Agency for International Development (AID).
In 1969, Ruth Davis joined the Foreign Service and was assigned as Consular Officer in Kinshasa, Zaire (1969-1971). That assignment was followed by assignments in Nairobi, Kenya (1971-1973), Tokyo, Japan (1973-1976), and Naples, Italy (1976-1980). Returning to the United States as a Pearson Fellow, she worked as Special Advisor for International Affairs for the Washington, D.C. Municipal Government from 1989 to 1982 where she helped direct the Sister City Program and International Task Force.
Ensuing assignments in Washington, D.C. included U.S. Department of State Operations Center, Senior Watch Officer (1982-1984) and Bureau of Personnel, Chief of Training and Liaison (1984-1987). She returned overseas to serve as Consular General at Barcelona, Spain from 1987 to 1991. Ambassador Davis played a significant role in the organization of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games and then utilized this valuable experience to help Atlanta successfully bid for the 1996 Olympic Games. In 1992 Davis was a