Joyce E. Leader

Joyce E. Leader, 1964

B.A., Denison University
M.A., University of Chicago
M.A., Columbia University

Consultant on African and Refugee Affairs
District of Columbia

Citation awarded June, 2004

Joyce Leader has had an intense interest in the even application of justice since she was a Denison student more than 40 years ago. She was drawn to the causes of the downtrodden and always sought ways to interact, primarily through education, which she believed to be the primary tool to create a better life for people of underdeveloped countries.

Joyce’s career in the Foreign Service has taken her to romantic and intriguing places, but also to countries where “risk” is a red-letter word. She has made outstanding contributions in her profession and has exchanged what most of us would call a “normal” life for a life of adventure in foreign lands.

While serving in the State Department for over 20 years, Joyce helped formulate U.S. policy on African and refugee issues in many parts of the globe. Throughout she was driven by her sense of responsibility to her job and to the people in the country where she was stationed. Over the past ten years, Joyce has stepped further up the ladder of foreign diplomatic service. She reached the pinnacle of her profession when she became Ambassador to Guinea in West Africa. In her last post prior to retirement, she played a leading role in the repatriation efforts in Afghanistan and in contingency planning for a possible humanitarian crisis in Iraq. She is considered an expert on refugee issues in the international community.

Joyce was serving as Deputy Chief of Mission in Rwanda during the three years leading up to the genocide that took the lives of more than 800,000 Rwandans. Her insight into this crisis and what might have been done to prevent it are recorded in her book, Rwanda’s Struggle for Democracy and Peace, 1991-1994, published in 2001 by The Fund for Peace. She says, “Internal conflict is one of the most prominent issues on the international front today. It is responsible for unstable countries, refugees and internal displacement, while preventing economic development, democracy and foreign trade and investment from taking place.”

Passion. Dedication. Persistence. Courage. Principle. Those five descriptors illustrate why Joyce was selected as Senior Fellow to The Fund for Peace, whose mission is to prevent war, alleviate the conditions which cause war, and promote education and research for practical solutions.

Since retiring last September, Joyce has continued to pursue these interests, teaching Africa to graduate and undergraduate students and serving as a senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration.