Academics: Majors and Programs


With the diplomat-in-residence program, the International Affairs Center provides the College with a direct link to the U.S. State Department as well as other government agencies with an international focus. The diplomat-in-residence also serves as a resource to faculty and students, makes classroom presentations, serves as speaker at international events, and counsels students who plan to take the Foreign Service Examination. The diplomat is also available to talk with students interested in careers with the U.S. Department of State.

Diplomat In Residence - Parnell

Isiah Parnell

Mr. Isiah Parnell, a career Foreign Service Officer, is a member of  the Senior Foreign Service and holds the rank of Minister Counselor. He currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Missions at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mr. Parnell joined the Department of State in 1984 and has served in eight overseas posts in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs and Africa. From 2006-2009, he was the Minister Counselor of Management affairs in Mexico City. Before assuming his position in Kenya, he was the Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy, Kingston from 2009 through 2010, and then served as the Deputy Chief of Mission from 2010 through 2012.

Mr. Parnell was born in High Springs, Florida. He earned his B.A. ad M.A. degrees from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in Government and Economics; a M.A. degree in Urban Planning/Economics from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia; and has completed the coursework for a Doctorate in Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver.

Mr. Parnell served in the U.S. Army from 1981-1984. He is married to Tamice Gordon Parnell of Colorado and they have four daughters. 

Former Diplomats-in-Residence

Mark Powell

Spelman Diplomat in Residence, Foreign Service, International Studies at SpelmanMark Powell's career has provided a variety of experiences, including serving on the advance team for President Clinton’s 1994 visit to Jerusalem for the signing of the historic peace accord between Jordan and Israel, and in the Political Section at the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela during a prolonged period of political crisis. As political officer at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See late in pontificate of John Paul II, Powell held a varied portfolio of diplomatic issues that included EU expansion, human rights in Cuba, religious freedom in China, the conflict in Central Africa, the NATO war in the Balkans, and the Vatican’s longstanding dialogue with Judaism and with Islam.

As Consul General in Leipzig, Germany, Powell has helped to resolve several problems involving U.S. military flights that transited Leipzig’s airport while en route to and from Iraq and Afghanistan, sought to promote local German investment in the United States, and was privileged to participate, along with the son of Leipzig-born former German track star “Luz” Long, in a ceremony to commemorate the friendship, during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, between Long and Jesse Owens. 

Powell received his bachelor's degree from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and received his master's degree in national security and strategic studies at the U.S. Naval War College.

Hugh F. Williams Jr.

Hugh Williams is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. He has held numerous assignments overseas and domestically. During his distinguished service, he has received several Meritorious Honor awards and the Department’s Superior Honor award.

Williams has a wealth of experience at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad as a Consular Officer in Canada, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Belgium and Jamaica. He held a variety of positions domestically in the Bureau of Human Resources including an assignment as Diplomat in Residence at Florida A&M University. He has also served on the Foreign Service Promotion Board and other career selection panels.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Williams served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, West Africa. He also taught in the public school systems in Houston, Philadelphia and at his alma mater, Delaware State University. He earned graduate degrees from Texas Southern University and from the Air War College. In addition to his formal education, he received French and Malay language training at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, where he also received extensive training in senior management and leadership. He is an active member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, an ordained deacon, and was vice president of an affinity organization in the State Department for Foreign Service Officers of African-American ancestry.

Williams and his wife Marie are from Philadelphia, have been married for 33 years, and have two adult daughters.

Terrence K. Williamson

Terrence K. Williamson, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, has served with distinction with the U.S. Department of State since January of 1986.  Williamson, currently the Counselor for Information Management to Mission Germany, has held a number of increasingly responsible positions in the in the department, both domestically and overseas.  Prior assignments include associate dean of the School of Applied Information Technology at the Foreign Service Institute where he led the effort to expand delivery of synchronous Distance Learning supporting Language and Information technology studies.  Williamson also served as the deputy executive director of the Bureau of Information Resources Management, one of the largest functional bureaus in the department where he oversaw an annual budget approaching $1 billion.  Other domestic assignment included director of the Information Assurance Division and director of the IT Infrastructure Division charged with piloting a secure information-sharing platform supporting the Foreign Affairs community.  His overseas assignments include Panama City, Panama during finalization of the Panama Canal Treaty, Dakar, Senegal and Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

A native of South Carolina, Williamson holds a master's degree in information science from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree in information technology from the Catholic University of America. He is also a graduate of the National Defense University’s Advanced Management Program. Williamson holds several prestigious professional certifications including the Federal Chief Information Officer Council’s CIO Certificate and multiple information assurance/security certifications.  His is the recipient of a multitude of Department awards representing superior and meritorious performance.

Williamson is considered a consummate problem solver who is able to extract the best from difficult situations.  For example, in Panama, while enduring a major shortfall in staffing over a prolonged period, Williamson completed an aggressive array of major projects critical to the mission.  More importantly, his staff emerged as the model of an energized and progressive unit for positive change. He has extensive contacts in the department’s bureaucracy to clear obstacles from the path and has an exquisite understanding of management policies.  Williamson also has extensive interagency experience negotiating common ground and working toward shared goals.   Understanding that a community is what you make it, Williamson endeavors to be an active participant in his community, whether it be serving on the Board of the Employee Association, mentoring junior employees or leading the Embassy softball team.  He is married to Bonnie Witherspoon-Williamson, a lifelong educator; and they have two sons, Terrence II and Charleston.

Paul Edward Rowe

Paul Edward Rowe served at Spelman as the diplomat-in-residence from 2008-2010. A native of Newnan, Ga., he holds a bachelor's degree in political science with a minor concentration in economics from Morehouse College, and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University. Before joining the Department of State, Rowe’s experience includes a stint as a city of Atlanta police officer; a Peace Corps volunteer in the central west African country of Cameroon, where he taught English as a foreign language at the middle school level and became fluent in French at that time. Upon his return to the United States, he worked for two years as a marketing representative for the Shell Oil Co., managed a retail outlet for one year for the Southland Corp., and served for one year as a loan officer for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Rowe left the SBA to become deputy director of the Saunders B. Moon Community Action Assoc., a private nonprofit organization that provided services to the low-income community in the Mt. Vernon area of northern VA. After four-and-a-half years with this organization, Rowe became Country Desk Officer at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he had responsibility for liaison between Peace Corps headquarters and the Peace Corps programs in Cameroon, Gabon, and the Central African Empire, to which he made annual visits. He also served as acting Peace Corps country director in Gabon from September to December in 1981.

Rowe joined the Foreign Service in 1983 and served 18 of the next 25 years overseas. He served as General Services Officer in Dakar, Senegal; Budget and Fiscal Officer in Nairobi, Kenya, and Administrative Officer in Libreville, Gabon before returning to Washington to serve as Country Officer for Haiti during the boat people crisis of the early 90s. He was then selected to participate in the prestigious University Year Program sponsored by the Department of State. He was sent to Harvard University for a year where he earned a master's degree in public administration.

Following the year at Harvard, Rowe served as administrative counselor for two years respectively at each of the U.S. Embassies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Cameroon. He then served for three years as deputy chief of Mission in the North Central West African country of Chad, during which time he was promoted to the rank of Counselor in the Senior Foreign Service. Rowe was then selected to participate in the highly competitive and prestigious Senior Seminar at the Department of State, which lasted one year. He completed a two-year tour of duty as Management Counselor at the U.S. Mission in Bogotá, Colombia before assuming in September 2005 the position of managing director of Operations in the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations — a position equivalent to deputy assistant secretary. During the spring of 2008, Rowe was elevated to the position of deputy director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations. Rowe holds the diplomatic rank of Minister Counselor, which is equivalent to the military rank of two-star general.

Rowe’s hobbies are photography and flying. He holds a diploma from the New York Institute of Photography and has been a licensed pilot since 1979.

Sylvia G. Stanfield

The U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam from 1999-2002, Ambassador Sylvia G. Stanfield formally served as as Diplomat-in-Residence at Spelman College. She is a career diplomat and a member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with the personal rank of Minister-Counselor.

Ambassador Stanfield’s first overseas assignment was as Vice-Consul in Taipei, Taiwan (1969-1971). Following a tour as a Watch Officer with the Department of State’s 24-hour Operations Center, she did further language studies in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) at the Department of State’s School of Advanced Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taichung, Taiwan.

She continued her Cantonese language training in Hong Kong then joined the political section of the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong. Specializing in Asian political affairs, she has served at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China (1979-81), at the American Institute in Taipei, Taiwan (1985-1987), and as Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand (1993-1995). Her Washington assignments have included the Office of China, Hong Kong & Mongolian Affairs (1979-1981) and the Office of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Affairs (1981-1983). She was director of the Office of Australia and New Zealand Affairs (1990-1992) and headed the department’s Office of Taiwan Coordination Affairs (1996-1998) prior to attending the 1998-1999 Senior Seminar, the highest level of executive training offered by the U.S. government.

Ambassador Stanfield’s domestic assignments also have included the Office of Southern African Affairs, the Office of International Development Assistance, and the Office of the Inspector General. She has also served with the Examination Division of the Bureau of Human Resources.

Born in Texas, Ambassador Stanfield received a bachelor's degree in intercultural studies from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. Between her junior and senior years, she traveled throughout the Middle East and in Europe with a Western Summer Abroad program. Awarded a U.S. government sponsored East-West Center Grant for graduate studies, she obtained a master’s degree in Asian studies from the University of Hawaii and continued Chinese language studies at the University of Hong Kong School of Oriental Languages and Linguistics.