Caroline Savage MA2002, MA2004 has played a challenging role behind the scenes as a top leader in Russian, Eurasian, and African diplomacy.
At age 32, she spent a year coordinating policy development relating to Russia at the National Security Council (NSC), during which she prepared briefing materials for meetings between Russian officials and American leaders, including President Obama, Vice President Biden, and national security officers. Typically, a Foreign Service officer would spend decades reaching this position.
She was recently the head of public affairs at the U.S. embassy in Mozambique, where she developed programming to combat HIV/AIDS and malaria and promoted democratic and inclusive growth. She is currently the head of public affairs at the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan, where she leads public advocacy and programs to advance long-term security, democracy, and economic cooperation with that country.
Savage, a 2012 recipient of the Wisconsin Alumni Association’s Forward under 40 Award, has earned numerous State Department awards since 2005 — accolades that document her extraordinary path.
Prior to her NSC position, during Obama’s “reset” of relations with Russia, Savage was a political-military affairs and foreign policy officer for the U.S. Department of State’s Russia Desk.
From 2007 to 2009, she helped to keep operations running during the threatened closure of the U.S. embassy in Minsk after tensions flared between the United States and Belarus. As the public-affairs officer and consul, Savage led a large, local staff, despite a 90 percent reduction of American personnel at the embassy, and she temporarily served as chargé d’affaires.
When mentoring students on campus last year, the competent and calm Savage humbly offered practical advice and encouragement, and she continues to keep in contact with foreign-service hopefuls from UW–Madison.
She mentions her alma mater’s influence in an essay that refers to the university’s famed sifting-and-winnowing statement. Savage says that the most important lesson she learned at the UW was “to embrace the constant sifting and winnowing … to help me search for clarity and forge decisions in a world of ambiguous and sometimes contradictory information.”