Ambassador (retired) Sylvia Gaye Stanfield was the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam from 1999-2002 and a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service.
Asia was the focus of much of her 30 plus years with the Foreign Service. Her first overseas assignment was with the then American Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan. As a political track Chinese language officer, she had postings with the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. She served on the State Department’s “China desk” at the time of the normalization of U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China and later headed the Office of Taiwan Coordination Affairs. She was Director of Australian and New Zealand Affairs prior to serving as Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. Her wide-ranging Washington assignments included those with the Bureau of African Affairs, the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs, the Office of the Inspector General, the Board of Examiners, and the Senior Seminar. She was Diplomat-in-Residence at Florida A&M University and at Spelman College before serving as Senior Advisor for Mentoring Coordination at the Department of State.
Along with continuing involvement in mentoring activities, she is a President of Black Professionals in International Affairs (BPIA) – an organization founded in the late 1980’s to increase African-Americans’ interest and involvement in international affairs, and a member of the Association of Black American Ambassadors executive committee. She also is a Director of the Miami University (Ohio) Foundation Board, and a past president and current member of the Western College Alumnae Association Board of Trustees.
A native Texan, she earned a B.A. degree in intercultural studies from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio. While an East West Center grantee, she received a M.A. degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii and continued her studies at the University of Hong Kong School of Oriental Studies and Linguistics. After joining the Foreign Service, she did further study in Mandarin and Cantonese at the State Department’s School of Advanced Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taiwan.