Key People

Ambassador Shelby Cullom Davis (1909-1994)


The Honorable Shelby Cullom Davis served as U.S.  Ambassador to Switzerland from 1969 to 1975. He was appointed by President Richard Nixon and continued to serve under President Gerald Ford. Upon his return to the U.S., Ambassador Davis assumed the leadership of the American Swiss Association, as the organization was then called, serving as honorary chairman until the end of his life.
Ambassador Shelby Cullom Davis had a remarkable career as a scholar, public servant, and businessman. He developed deep and personal ties to Switzerland early in life, even meeting his future wife on a train ride to Geneva where they both obtained doctorates from the Graduate Institute of International Studies before returning to the United States.  In 1933, Davis became an economist for his brother-in-law’s firm, Investment Corporation in Philadelphia. His 1940 book, America Faces the Forties, caught the attention of New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey, who ultimately hired Davis as his economic adviser and speechwriter. In 1944, Governor Dewey appointed Davis as the fi rst deputy commissioner of insurance in New York.
After World War II, Davis founded Shelby Cullom Davis & Co., an investment banking firm specializing in insurance securities. He served as managing partner of the firm until 1969, at which time he was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, a position he held with distinction until 1975. One of Ambassador Davis’s defi ning successes during his tenure in Bern was the negotiation of the 1973 Treaty between the United States and Switzerland on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, which passed unanimously in both the Swiss Parliament and the U.S. Senate. Upon his return to the United States in 1975, he assumed an active leadership role with the American Swiss Foundation, serving as chairman and president until 1989, and as honorary chairman until his death in 1994.
Throughout his life, Ambassador Davis remained passionately committed to the notion that the health of a nation depends on its citizens’ intellectual vigor, selfdiscipline and self-reliance, respect for the law and private property, and above all else, unselfish concern for the public good.


Ambassador Faith Whittlesey (1939-2018)


Ambassador Faith Whittlesey was the Grande Dame of American-Swiss relations for nearly four decades. She served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland for five years in two tours under the Administration of President Ronald Reagan. She also served on the White House Senior Staff (1983 to 1985) as Director of the Office of The Honorable Faith Whittlesey served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland from 1981 to 1983 and again from 1985 to 1988. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. In 1989, she was invited to serve as chairman and president of the American Swiss Association. She initiated the annual Young Leaders Conference in 1990 and served as chairman emeritus until the end of her life.

Upon her return from Switzerland, Ambassador Whittlesey was invited to serve as chairman and president of the American Swiss Foundation in 1989. She initiated the annual Young Leaders Conference the following year. Over the ensuing three decades, she guided the conference planning and recruitment process of U.S. Young Leaders and attended every Young Leaders Conference through 2017. The conference program bore the unmistakable stamp of her knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. As chairman and, later chairman emeritus, she touched the lives of 1,300 conference alumni in Switzerland and the United States in a deeply personal way. She formed and fostered friendships with Foundation board members, as well as with members of the extended community of business, media, and educational leaders and public servants, always mindful of the signifi cance of American-Swiss relations.

A book about her life and career, Backwards in High Heels: Faith Whittlesey, Reagan’s Madam Ambassador in Switzerland and the West Wing, by Thomas Carty (YL 2005), was published in 2012.

A graduate of Wells College, Ambassador Whittlesey earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She was the recipient of four honorary degrees, and received a Ford Foundation grant to attend the Academy of International Law in The Hague, Netherlands. Among other awards, she received the Reagan Revolution Medal of Honor, the Congress of Racial Equality’s Public Service Award, Christian Freedom International’s Freedom Award, the Friends of Switzerland’s Stratton Prize, and the Swiss Embassy’s William Tell Award.