American Swiss Foundation

In Memoriam: Faith Whittlesey (1939-2018)

Ambassador Whittlesey was the Grande Dame of American-Swiss relations for almost four decades. She led the American Swiss Foundation as Chairman, and later as Chairman Emeritus, for almost 30 years.


Faith Whittlesey served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland for nearly five years in two tours (1981–1983 and 1985–1988) during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. She also served on the White House Senior Staff (1983–1985) as Director of the Office of Public Liaison. 

Upon her return from Switzerland, the American Swiss Foundation invited her to serve as Chairman and President. In 1990, she initiated the annual Young Leaders Conference—ASF’s successful flagship program. Over the ensuing 28 years, she guided the conference planning and recruitment of U.S. Young Leaders, and attended every Young Leaders Conference.

Ambassador Whittlesey touched the lives of 1,200 conference alumni in Switzerland and the U.S. in a deeply personal way. She formed and fostered friendships with ASF board members, as well as with members of the extended community of business, media, and educational leaders and public servants mindful of the significance 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, appeared in 2012.  


Faith Whittlesey Remembered

  • A Tribute video about her legacy can be viewed on Youtube
  • Top Reagan aide and two-time ambassador to Switzerland: Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Conservative Voice and Reagan Aide: New York Times
  • Congressional Resolution in honor of Ambassador Whittlesey offered by Young Leader Congressman Donald Norcross (2006) and fellow alumni Congressmen Joaquin Castro (2010), Charlie Crist (1991), Bill Huizenga (2009), Alex Mooney (2006),  Senator John Barrasso (1990), and former Ambassador and Congressman Don Beyer.
  • Keeper of Reagan’s flame: Newsmax
  • Powerhouse Faith Whittlesey: Delaware County Daily Times
  • Faith Ryan Whittlesey, Reagan White House alum and ambassador: Washington Times
  • Farewell Faith, by Amy Holmes (YL 2014): Weltwoche in German and in English
  • A Friend of Switzerland, by Christof Münger (YL 2004): Tages Anzeiger in German
  • Charlie Gerow (YL 1998) remembers friend and mentor, Ambassador Faith Ryan Whittlesey:
  • A skilled hand with the U.S.-Swiss mix, by Richard Rahn: The Washington Times
  • Madam Switzerland, with exclusive obituaries from Michael Reagan, James Baker III, Larry Kudlow, Ambassador Edward McMullen (YL 1995) and councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, former councillors Elisabeth Kopp, Adolf Ogi and others: Die Weltwoche in German and in English
  • Announcement from the American Swiss Foundation
  • Ambassador Faith Whittlesey, Rest in Peace, by Daniel McAdams (YL 2006): Ron Paul Institute

The Life of Faith Whittlesey

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