Selwa S. Roosevelt

Ambassador Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt was Chief of Protocol of the United States from 1982-1989—almost seven years and longer than anyone has ever served in that position. In that capacity, she was in charge of organizing over 1,000 visits of world leaders to the United States. Ambassador Roosevelt was President Reagan’s representative to the Washington Diplomatic Corps, and her office was the office of record for some 30,000 diplomats in the United States. In addition, she was responsible for the Blair House Restoration Project—a six-year renovation of the nation’s 110-room Presidential guest house involving $9 million in government funds and $5 million in private funds.

Born in Kingsport, Tennessee, the daughter of Lebanese immigrants, she lived there until her marriage in 1950 to Archibald B. Roosevelt, Jr., a grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. An honors graduate from Vassar College, she has worked as a journalist for The Washington Post and a free lance writer for numerous magazines, among them Family Circle, McCalls and Town & Country, where she was a contributing editor for seven years.

Ambassador Roosevelt has received numerous awards including the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal from the Department of the Army and the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Women’s National Republican Club of New York. In 1985, she received the Betty Ford Lifetime Achievement Award from the Susan Komen Foundation for her writings on breast cancer. After retiring as Chief of Protocol, she was decorated by the Italian government and made a Grand Official of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy. She is a Senior Editor of the Mediterranean Quarterly, replacing the late Philip Habib, and a Vice Chairman of the Washington Roundtable of CSIS. She is also Chairman of the Blair House Restoration Fund and a member of the Executive Committee of The Washington National Opera.

Ambassadorial Post(s)

Chief of Protocol, (1982 - 1989)

Areas of Expertise