AUGUST 2011 NEWSLETTER
Take Me There...
The summer months are an exciting time to welcome and engage a new generation of future leaders in Washington, D.C. TLG has made a concerted effort to invest time with the Rangel and Pickering Fellows, and International Institute of Public Policy
(IIPP) Program participants. As an ever-increasing number of students of international affairs consider career paths, it is vital for TLG to continue to shed light on the importance of the State Department’s role on the international stage. As entry level officers begin their careers, TLG has hosted receptions and orientation sessions to encourage them to look to TLG as a valuable resource.
This newsletter highlights numerous TLG activities including Ms. Donna Brazile’s participation in the Department’s Black History Month Program, a comprehensive readout from TLG’s participation in the Secretary’s meeting with affinity group representatives, and an insightful overview of Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon’s presentation on U.S.-Brazil relations.
TLG believes strongly that through our mentoring efforts, ongoing programs and initiatives, we are helping to shape a talented and diverse pipeline of mid-level and senior officers prepared to properly manage future international challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. Along these lines, TLG continues to identify areas for convergence within the Department as recently demonstrated in our securing Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides’ agreement to serve as TLG’s leadership liaison. TLG’s board looks forward to maximizing this valuable opportunity in working with the Deputy Secretary to support TLG’s platform moving forward.
FORMER TLG PRESIDENT FANNIE L. ALLEN RETIRES
By: Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas
Members of Washington’s diplomatic corps, Department of State colleagues and key representatives of the Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland communities, marked the retirement of Lt Col Fannie L. Allen after 39 years of public service. Guests traveling from Florida, Williamsburg, VA and Atlanta joined in to witness an outpouring of richly-deserved tributes and accolades at the luncheon in her honor on October 4, 2010 at DACOR-Bacon House.
Ambassador Ruth A. Davis praised Allen for having left a long-lasting legacy. She not only taught all fortunate enough to pass through her orbit a sense of professionalism, integrity, excellence, respect, honor and proper decorum, but she always added that inimitable “touch of class.”
Guest speakers informed us of Allen’s deep commitment to their work and support of her family, staffers, mentees, veterans, church members, and her peers Her niece Kimberly Wright highlighted the honoree’s character and altruism. Dr. Curtis Huff, her division chief, described a colleague who was the epitome of diplomacy, brilliance and grace. All of the speakers voiced a central theme: the steadfastness of Fannie’s faith, the genuine concern for the human condition, the unwavering commitment to excellence, and a sense of integrity sorely needed in today’s world. Dr. Carroll F.S. Hardy, founder and executive director of the Stuart Educational Leadership Group (SELG) based in Williamsburg, VA reminded us of Fannie’s singular commitment to the next generation of diplomats, educators and business professionals.
Photo Credit: Stacy D. Williams
Ambassador Davis presented Allen the Secretary’s Career Achievement Award and TLG Vice President Stacy D. Williams read tributes from elected officials and presented the American Flag.
A graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Lt Col. Allen was one of the first Civil Service Presidents of the Thursday Luncheon Group who ensured the viability of this organization when many career FSOs who may have taken on that leadership were posted abroad. Without Allen’s leadership as chief of one of the former USIA’s principle grants divisions, major exchange programs including the management of the flagship Fulbright Program handled by The Institute of International Education (IIE) for the past 40 years would not have been possible.
Then TLG President Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater closed the event with her reflections on Allen’s career and expressed the deep appreciation we all have for this committed colleague’s ability to lift all of us during her nearly four decade career. The reluctant honoree responded to the afternoon of accolades by turning the attention to her colleagues. She said a “heartfelt thank you to all.” As she reminded us of her dual career as a civil servant and an army reserve officer (she retired from that career as a Lt Colonel), she asked that we remember our soldiers deployed in major conflicts around the world. Fannie Allen ended the day with the very humility and grace which is her trademark. We wish our former TLG President a retirement filled with the joy she so graciously shared with us all.
AFFINITY GROUP LEADERS MEET WITH SECRETARY CLINTON
On December 9th, 2010, Secretary Hillary Clinton, in coordination with Director John Robinson and the Office of Civil Rights, hosted 15 representatives from the Department’s affinity groups. Each one was given a few minutes to introduce themselves and their organization’s mission and priorities. TLG Vice President Stacy D. Williams thanked the Secretary for her time and for agreeing to meet with affinity group leaders. He provided the Secretary a packet of information on TLG’s history and programs, and explained TLG’s mission and priorities as follows:
---To ensure that Department leaders keep diversity at the forefront in decision-making and outreach. Although TLG applauds the Department for the wider geographical distribution in the assignment of African American chiefs of mission, our members maintain that since African-Americans make up 13 percent of the population in the United States that fact should be reflected in hiring, within the ranks of the Department, in overseas and domestic assignments, as well as in details outside the Department.
---To ensure that development and training opportunities are made available at all levels to both Civil and Foreign Service personnel.
---To emphasize that Civil Service officers are vitally important in advancing policy and management within the Department and that they should also have an opportunity to advance into and through the senior ranks. TLG urged the Department to reinstitute the SES Career Development program which promoted a broad curriculum for shaping skill sets and development of officers to create a cadre of individuals prepared to assume greater responsibility and senior Department positions. (Note: We are happy to report that the Department re-instituted the Program in February 2011).
---To emphasize that recruitment and retention are crucial to the Department’s long-term success. TLG values the importance the Department places on the Thomas R. Pickering and Charles Rangel Programs. TLG urges the Department to strengthen its investment in such outreach initiatives and identify new strategies to maintain momentum and continue to increase the diversity of talent.
The Secretary thanked all the participants for their respective presentations, noted that she would look into the concerns raised, and expressed appreciation for the group leaders’ commitment to diversity while working on these issues in addition to regular jobs.
STUDENT LEADERS WELCOME TLG REPS
By: Ambassador June Carter Perry
The National Black Student Leader Conference is one of the most fertile for potential Foreign and Civil Service Officers. On January 7, participants in the National Black Student Leaders Conference joined Ambassador June Carter Perry, TLG President Stacy D. Williams, Civil Service Director Jackie Hill and Student Programs Chief Daniel Stewart for a vibrant exchange on international career opportunities. HR/REE Recruiter Debbie Faltz moderated the session held at the Tyson’s Corner Sheraton Premiere Hotel. Topics covered included the Presidential Management Fellowship, the role of civil servants, State Department internship programs, career paths and preparation.
The audience included students ranging from late teens to forty years of age enrolled in educational institutions around the country. Stacy D. Williams kicked off the nearly two-hour discussion with a detailed description of his experience from college student to intern to Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) and a fulfilling career as a civil servant in the Department. He advised the students to identify a mentor to help guide them through what might appear to be a daunting prospect—leaving the comforts of home for a place as exotic as Zambia, in his case. Stacy urged students to concentrate on both oral and written skills essential to becoming competitive in one of the nation’s top places to work for young people.
Jackie Hill elaborated on the opportunities for civil servants. She emphasized the importance of having a permanent workforce in Washington, but also highlighted the opportunities for excursion and TDY experiences. Ms. Hill also explained that changes were pending in the PMF program and offered students the chance to further explore options and requisite skill sets with her and her team.
Turning to the Foreign Service, Daniel Stewart described the process of application, examination and entry. He cited the various student programs such as Stay in School and internships as excellent foundations and described the Pickering Fellowship requirements. Daniel explained his transition from Foreign to Civil Service while pointing out the advantages of
each. As did the other speakers, he repeated the mantra of “preparation, preparation, preparation.”
Ambassador Perry presented an overview of life at a U.S. Embassy and the major role interns can play in that setting. She cited the excellent work of interns at Embassy Maseru during her tenure in Lesotho and credited them with a large part in the successful visits of President Clinton and Bill and Melinda Gates. Addressing those in graduate or professional school, she also detailed her own mid-career entry from senior civil service at another agency to entry-level Foreign Service at State. She encouraged the audience to bear in mind the importance of presentation as first impressions in appearance as well as language skills are critical to future success.
MS. DONNA BRAZILE KEYNOTES DEPARTMENT BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROGRAM
By: Jean Pierre Louis
On Wednesday, February 16, the Thursday Luncheon Group, the Office of Civil Rights, and an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred welcomed Ms. Donna Brazile to the Dean Acheson auditorium. Ms. Brazile, thoroughly acquainted with Washington’s halls of power, is no stranger to the Department. Not only is Ms. Brazile a personal friend to Secretary Clinton, Secretary Powell has been her mentor. In addition to foreign policy interests, Ms. Brazile has yet another close connection with the Department of State. She and Secretary Rice share culinary interests.
Entertaining, informative, and congenial, the seasoned Washington veteran immediately engaged the
audience. Mr. Curtis Bowden, a staff assistant in the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS), observed, “Ms. Brazile was the consummate Black History Month speaker...her remarks captured the mood of a nation in the midst of a historic presidency.”
Ms. Brazile acknowledged that the nation had come a long way from the days when her grandmother’s birth certificate described her as “mulatto” but the journey continues. Ms. Brazile, indicated people from different walks of life should get to know each other better and admitted to being shocked as a youth to learn that all of Louisiana’s children, regardless of their ethnicity or racial makeup, “enjoyed a bowl of red beans and rice on Mondays.” Learning that she shared cultural and traditional linkages with white children helped Ms. Brazile realize the true meaning of Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision that “our loyalties…transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation”.
Photo Credit: Margaret Ann Thomas
Each of the speakers focused on the program’s central theme: progress in race relations. State Department Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Civil Rights John Robinson opened the event. He applauded the emphasis on enduring commonalities; shared family traditions and the value of mutual respect. Ms. Reta Jo Lewis, Special Representative of Global Inter-Governmental Affairs for the Department, and a newly minted TLG member, delivered remarks on behalf of the Secretary. Ms. Jo Lewis congratulated TLG for its 38 years of dedicated service. She stated the Secretary’s pride in affinity groups like TLG which highlight the importance of diversity in traditional and in contemporary ways.
TLG President Stacy D. Williams introduced Ms. Brazile, recounted the story of the 9-year old Brazile who persuaded a local official to build a new playground in her community. By the time Ms. Brazile reached the ripe age of 10, she was ready to take on the world.
Former TLG president, Ambassador Larry Palmer closed the program, by reminding the audience that the public and private sector now recognize the inherent value in cultural competence and diversity. This is a highly sought after combination in today’s global community. An enlightening and inspiring program, this year’s event, topped the Black History Programs of the past. We congratulate the coordinators for a superb event. TLG members within the Department can view the program in its entirety on B-NET by clicking on the attached link: http://bnet.state.gov/viewClip/?clip_id=2495
CAREER AMBASSADOR TERENCE A. TODMAN 85TH BIRTHDAY GALA IN ST. THOMAS LAUNCHES TODMAN FOUNDATION
By: Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas
On Saturday, March 12, 2011, the Charlotte Amalie High School Color Guard presented the colors in the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel Ballroom. The mellifluous voices of Gylchris Sprauve set the stage as he sang the two National Anthems. The renowned Seattle opera star Arthur Woodley, paid stunning musical tributes to Career Ambassador Terence
Todman with selections from the Marriage of Figaro to The Impossible Dream. The gala was off to a spectacular start. The event allowed many to offer magnificent tributes to a magnificent colleague, The Honorable Terence A. Todman.
Terence A. Todman, Jr, Esq. Master of Ceremonies, read messages from President Obama, former President Bush and Secretary Clinton. The audience then listened to the remarks from the Governor of The Virgin Islands, The Consul General of Denmark, and Ambassador Ruth A. Davis (delivered by Ambassador Harriet Elam-Thomas for Amb. Davis was unable to attend). They were also treated to observations from TLG member Col. James Dandridge, Chairman of the Board of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, and from the President of the University of the Virgin Islands and a host of other dignitaries. They learned of a man who reached the pinnacle of a diplomatic career yet remains a humble soul.
Ambassador Todman did not want such an event to take place without ensuring that the occasion would have a purpose. His wish was granted. The Terence A. Todman Foundation was launched that evening. The new foundation will provide scholarships and support for diplomatic research and the study of international affairs. TLG was one of the first contributors to the Foundation along with the Association of Black American Ambassadors.
Amb. Todman closed the evening in legendary fashion with reflections on his life, the challenges and triumphs all of which would not have been possible without the support of his wife Doris of 61 years and the mutual patience of his children and grandchildren. Once again, congratulations on your 85th!
TLG GRANTS $4,000 TO HBCUS FOR TODMAN BOOK SCHOLARSHIPS
TLG has granted $10,000 to Historically Black Colleges and Universities for Todman Book Scholarships. The scholarships are for outstanding students who are interested in pursuing studies in or related to international affairs. The funds are to be used to help defray the cost of books required for academic purposes or reading related to the students’ interest in international affairs. Colleges and universities receiving the grants have been requested to advertise them widely and to confer them on students who have outstanding academic records. The scholarships are to be presented in as public a forum as possible in order to give recognition to the students for their achievements and to honor Amb. Terence Todman.
Grants for scholarships of $1,000 each have been recently made to Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Southern University. TLG believes strongly that it is imperative for HBCUs to place more emphasis on international affairs so they will remain relevant in today’s highly competitive global world. TLG is pleased to assist HBCUs in these important efforts.
THE NEWS CONTINUES...
OPERATIONS CENTER’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY
By: Michelle Outlaw
The U.S. Department of State’s Operations Center (Ops) opened for business on April 30, 1961 in response to a series of international crises. Since then, Ops has been operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and has been at the hub of diplomacy during some of the seminal events of U.S. foreign policy over the last half-century. As the first of its kind, Ops predates even the illustrious White House Situation Room. It started with just one officer, a cot, and a pitcher of water, but today has grown to more than 60 Watch standers and Crisis Management Support staff. Ops monitors and reacts to news around the world, while coordinating and facilitating key telephone calls for the Secretary of State and other Department principals, moving foreign policy forward in all corners of the globe.
On May 18th, the Department held a 50th anniversary celebration of the Operations Center, featuring Secretary Clinton, former Secretary Albright, and the late Secretary Eagleburger. Numerous Ops alumni and current staff attended the affair in the Harry S Truman building. An exhibit was unveiled, highlighting key events over the last 50 years in which the Operations Center played a role. The Secretary spoke and mentioned that
Ops is the “24/7 nerve center” for everything we do around the world and has often gone above and beyond in assisting Secretaries of State in aiding Department principals during events like the “Snownami of 2010.” The Secretary relayed a story about a stranded Counselor Cheryl Mills, who reached out to Ops for assistance during the storm upon her return from a trip to Haiti, when everything was shut down, “except for Ops.” This was just one of the anecdotes she shared as an illustration that the Operations Center gets the job done, no matter what it takes.
At the celebration, a video was showcased, featuring current and past Ops Alumni, including former Director General and TLG member Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, who served in the Operations Center as Deputy Director, Director, and the Executive Secretary. Other TLG members present at the event included: Amb. Ruth A. Davis, former Director General and Operations Center Senior Watch Officer, and Raymond Maxwell, current director of NEA/RMA. Also numerous past and present TLG members have served on the Watch and have fond memories of their time there. Notable TLG member Ambassador John L. Withers was the first African American to serve as Director of Ops. Due to their success in managing tense and complex situations in the Operations Center, many TLG members who served there later assumed positions of greater responsibility in the Department.
If you are interested in serving in this intense, challenging, and exciting office, look for a cable highlighting available foreign and civil service positions, which is released for the winter and summer bidding cycles. Place your bid and you might have the chance to serve on the front lines of the Secretary’s crisis and nerve center, shaping the next 50 years of diplomacy.
AFSA/TLG INTERNSHIP PROGRAM CELEBRATES ITS 16th YEAR
Since 1995, TLG has partnered with the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) to bring one minority intern to the Department of State each summer to gain valuable exposure within the international affairs arena. Both organizations provide a stipend for the intern’s living expenses and schedule a number of activities for the student including networking events during the summer months.
Over the course of the past 16 years, interns have served in the Deputy Secretary’s office, the East Asia Pacific Bureau, Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science, and the South Central Asia Bureau. One intern also served at U.S. Embassy Addis Abba, Ethiopia. TLG appreciates AFSA’s efforts in promoting the internship program through diverse means including articles in the AFSA News section of the Foreign Service Journal.
The 2011 AFSA/TLG intern is Matthew Thompkins. Matthew is a Los Angeles, California native and rising senior at Humboldt State University in northern California. He is majoring in International Trade and Finance and speaks Chinese. Matthew is currently assigned to the South Central Asia Bureau and will focus on advancing the India portfolio. TLG members are reaching out to welcome him and discuss exciting career opportunities within the Department.
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO BRAZIL, THOMAS A. SHANNON ADDRESSES TLG
Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, joined the TLG’s June 2 luncheon while in Washington for the U.S. - Brazil Global Partnership Dialogue (GPD). Ambassador Shannon discussed the positive state of U.S.-Brazil relations and provided the group with an overview of Brazil’s historic journey from its days of military government to a vibrant, emerging democracy and economic powerhouse. He highlighted Brazil’s growing economic importance not only for the United States, but throughout the region and around the world. During his presentation, Ambassador Shannon credited much of Brazil’s successful growth to the Brazilian government’s efforts to reduce poverty and inequality, improve the education system,
and expand its middle class. Federal programs like Bolsa Familia, which is the world’s largest conditional cash transfer program, and increasing job opportunities through federal projects are have significantly raised Brazilian household incomes and turned Brazil into a nation of consumers. Most importantly, Brazil recognizes it is imperative to have a functioning democracy that fosters social and economic development, expands trade, and improves the livelihoods of its people.
The Ambassador also discussed how President Barack Obama’s March visit to Brazil helped energize U.S.-Brazil relations and celebrate our nations’ close ties. The President’s visit also led to the Global Partnership Dialogue
(GPD) meetings, which produced a comprehensive agenda for the two democracies in the years ahead. Ambassador Shannon noted that Embassy Brasilia and our three consulates in Brazil continue to look ahead for new ways to deepen the U.S.-Brazil dialogue and identify additional areas for cooperation and partnership, including infrastructure development and security cooperation in advance of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games and increased tri-lateral cooperation.
During the luncheon discussion, attended by 58 guests, Ambassador Shannon emphasized another historic aspect of the President’s visit: the U.S.’s first African-American president was meeting with Brazil’s first female president, Dilma Rousseff. TLG members – especially Aysa Miller, who will transfer to the U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo this fall - were extremely pleased with the informative and intriguing presentation delivered by Ambassador Shannon. TLG members can view the June 2, 2011 U.S. - Brazil GPD joint statement at the following link: 2011/06/164866.htm.
FIRST POL/ECON CHIEF IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
By: John Kelley
Starting in August, I will be the first political/economic chief in the newly established U.S. embassy in Southern Sudan, which became a new nation on July 9. Southern Sudan seceded from the Republic of Sudan per a January 2011 referendum established by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the north-south
(and Africa's longest-running) civil war. The U.S. played a pivotal role in brokering the CPA, and the embassy is sure to play an equally essential role as the Southern Sudanese launch their independence and attempt to resolve with their northern neighbor issues of governance, citizenship, borders and sharing oil revenues.
Although Republic of Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir has publicly accepted secession, the border area of Abyei, with an important oil pipeline and deposits, is still under north-south dispute. Over the last few weeks, the region has experienced heavy fighting and population displacement. Most recently, the UN Security Council consented to sending in Ethiopian peacekeeping troops to de-escalate tensions.
After a two year posting in EEB's Office of Monetary Affairs, leading an interagency team combating foreign bribery, I am looking forward to the AF posting. I hope to be a value-added part of the U.S. team as it works to help ensure peace, good governance and economic prosperity in Southern Sudan.
FSOs ON INTERESTING DETAIL ASSIGNMENTS
Ambassador Joyce Barr, is presently International Affairs Advisor and Deputy Commandant at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF). She served as Interim Chancellor (Acting Commandant) from July until October last year after Comandant RADM Garry Hall retired. During the change of command ceremony officiated by President of National Defense University Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau, Amb. Barr transferred her responsibilities for running the college to the new Commandant, MajGen Joseph D. Brown IV. She has resumed her duties as Senior Advisor, Faculty member and mentor. President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Amb. Barr as Assistant Secretary for Administration.
Jean Pierre-Louis is serving on detail at The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (CBHF) which is a nonprofit organization that the two former presidents established at President Obama’s request in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake. The Fund seeks to help Haiti "build back better" by fostering a diversified and competitive Haitian economy. Jean was the primary force in establishing the Fund’s presence and programs in Haiti and has received high praise for ensuring that it achieves its objectives.
While Jean’s efforts were initially focused on quick-impact, emergency assistance, the Fund has since shifted its efforts toward promoting jobs and creating economic opportunities that will lead to long-term growth and prosperity in Haiti. During his assignment, Jean has liaised with NGOs, international development professionals, Haitian government officials, , and businesspeople interested in investing in Haiti. He has assessed new proposals, conducted due diligence on potential partners and funding recipients, managed and evaluated the progress of grants and investments, and helped build capacity among funding recipients.
Kimberly McClure is currently an International Affairs Fellow (IAF) through the Council on Foreign Relations. As an IAF, Kimberly has partnered with Global Kids, Inc. to design and launch an initiative that introduced underserved DC high school students to global issues, international careers, and study abroad.
The program, called Global Gateways, brought 15 highly motivated African-American and Latino high school students from DC's toughest neighborhoods to Howard University's Bunche Center for International affairs for three weeks and will take them overseas to Rio and Salvador, Brazil. Students are learning how issues such as national security, counter terrorism, economic development, poverty alleviation, international business, human rights, environmental sustainability, race and class play out in an international context. They are being exposed to international career opportunities across the governmental, private, and non-profit sectors and learned about opportunities in college to stay engaged in international issues.
OUTSTANDING NATIONAL SECURITY TRAINING OPPORTUNITY
By: Tony Fernandes
I attended the two-week National Security Management Course on the campus of Syracuse University at the Maxwell School for National Security Studies from April 25 to May 6, 2011. I was one of two State Department selected and funded participants.
The focus of the Course was “New Threats - New Thinking.” The curriculum included everything from issues involving intelligence, terrorism/counterterrorism, foreign policy, management, leadership, homeland security, global economics, and trouble spots around the world to an array of current challenges facing the nation. The goal of the program was to address lessons of history and issues of contemporary relevance to national security.
It was a great opportunity to engage high-level speakers and participants on the most pressing national security issues facing the U.S. and the global community. My 51 classmates represented several U.S. government agencies, private companies and two foreign countries – Holland and the United Arab Emirates. In this dynamic, not-for-attribution setting we had great conversations. I learned as much from my classmates as I did from the speakers.
There were also numerous hands-on exercises that stimulated interaction. Participants were at the minimum ranks of 06/GS15/FS-1, as well as Flag and General Officers, SESs, and non-defense equivalent status. My classmates were warm, friendly, open to my opinions and people I will definitely stay in touch with. Most impressive was their dedication to their work. One of my classmates, an astronaut, presented a short home video of her last space shuttle mission in space.
Among the speakers were Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright, former NBC News Foreign Correspondent Fred Francis, NBC News Analyst Retired General Barry McCaffrey, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, National Correspondent for the Atlantic Magazine James Fallows and Deputy Director of the CIA Michael Morrell.
Unfortunately very few of the participants represented the great diversity the TLG community fosters. I strongly encourage TLGers to apply and participate. The contact persons in HR are Judy Garrett and Felicia Wells Bahati. For more info visit the website at www.nss.edu and contact Director Bill Smullen at: email@example.com, 315-443-7099.
The dates for the 2012 NSMC are April 22 to May 4. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions FernandesAC@state.gov.
CARIBBEAN – AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH/ INTERNATIONAL YEAR FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT SPECIAL DIALOGUE
By: Zakiya Carr Johnson
On June 8th, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) convened representatives of the diplomatic community, academicians, and cultural activists for a special dialogue in commemoration of Caribbean – American Heritage Month and the International Year for People of African Descent in the Department in the Ralphe Bunche Library. The event was co-sponsored by the Office of Caribbean Affairs, headed by Office Director and TLG member Makila James, and The Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit, led by Zakiya Carr Johnson.
WHA Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Roberta Jacobson and Deputy Assistant Secretary Fabiola Rodriguez -Ciampoli underscored the significance of this discourse in celebrating diversity, identity, and shared cultural experiences in the Western Hemisphere.
Guest speakers, Dr. Claire Nelson, Founder and President of the Institute of Caribbean Studies and Mr. Howard Dodson and Dr. Sylviane Diouf of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture engaged an audience of distinguished guests on a discussion about the importance of recognizing and preserving the history and culture of people of African descent in the Caribbean and around the world. Mr. Dodson concluded, “It is important for us to take time during this International Year and during this Caribbean – American Heritage Month to remind people and to introduce to others this history and heritage so they do not walk away unaware of a significant part of the human family.” Also in attendance was TLG member and current Diplomat in Residence at Howard University, Ambassador Eunice Reddick.
On May 6th, Ambassador Ruth A. Davis, who has recently become a life time member of TLG, was awarded the 2011 Director General’s Cup during a luncheon ceremony on Foreign Affairs Day. The Director General’s Cup is awarded annually to one retired Foreign and one retired Civil Service employee who distinguished themselves during and after their State Department careers. Amb. Davis was recognized for her invaluable efforts promoting diversity in the Foreign and Civil Service and for encouraging minorities and women to pursue and succeed in careers in international affairs. Congratulations to Career Ambassador Davis!
Special recognition goes to our new cadre of Ambassadors. TLG members were thrilled to attend swearing in ceremonies recently for Bisa Williams (Niger), Helen Reed Rowe (Palau), Pamela Bridgewater (Jamaica), Pamela Spratlen
(Kyrgyzstan), Sue Brown (Montenegro) and Ambassador at Large, Suzan Johnson Cook (Office of International Religious Freedom/ DRL).
Congratulations to Ajani Husbands and Dionandrea Shorts for their recent tenure into the Foreign Service. Ajani is currently serving in the consular section in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Dionandrea is the regional officer in the Office of Central American Affairs.
Atim George is going to the University of Southern California to serve as a Visiting Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy. Atim will engage in individualized program research and writing, and outreach to students and the academic community on matters relating to public diplomacy.
Brinille Ellis will go to Lahore, Pakistan as public affairs officer for her next two-year assignment. She will head the press and cultural affairs sections beginning in October.
Irv Hicks Jr. will attend the prestigious Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island this fall. He was previously assigned to Management/Policy, Rightsizing, and Innovation.
Congratulations to our members who have recently retired: Ambassadors Gayleatha Brown, Maurice Parker, and John L. Withers; Marcia Norman, Ada Adler, and Greta Wilson.
Navarro Moore is a first tour political officer and former Pickering Fellow
Hola! I am writing to you from sunny San Salvador, El Salvador. It is hard to believe that my two-year Consular tour here is halfway done. I am currently the chief of our Fraud Prevention Unit where I oversee a staff of three FSNs and I serve as the Staff Assistant to our Ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte. I have also served in NIV and IV Consular positions.
Life in El Salvador is good. Most Salvadorans share a very positive view of America and Americans. My family and I have enjoyed our time here despite some of the security related challenges. Interestingly, El Salvador is the only country in Central America that does not have a population of people of African descent, so the stares and requests for pictures that we encountered took some getting use to! Our daily routine is punctuated by trips to the beach and neighboring countries, a vibrant embassy community, and the support we derive from our family and friends around the world.
I am having a varied experience that ranges from speaking with Salvadoran students about Black History Month, negotiating our growing visa workload, to handling complex Front Office issues. My most memorable experience comes from President Obama's recent visit while I was assigned as Control Officer for his arrival ceremony and the bilateral meeting. I was asked to aid in preparation for the official dinner. That night, I was informed that, Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama's Chief of Staff was seated at a table with all Spanish speakers and she did not speak Spanish. I agreed to serve as interpreter and quickly found myself at the table which was positioned directly in front of President and Mrs. Obama. After 30 minutes of interpreting Ambassador Aponte called me to the head table and asked me to take her seat next to Mrs. Obama! I engaged in a wonderful conversation with Mrs. Obama and a short conversation with the President. As one can imagine, the entire experience was completely surreal!
Consular Officer Janelle Guest joined the Foreign Service in September 2005. Prior to her assignment to Children’s Issues (CI), she worked as a consular officer in the Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit in Accra, Ghana and as a political officer in Mexico City.
I am fortunate to serve my third assignment in (CI) at the State Department managing cases of international parental child abduction. Readers may recall the international attention placed on the Sean Goldman case in Brazil a few years ago. CI assists parents as they pursue recovery of their abducted children, and offers suggestions to prevent future abductions.
Within CI, I cover abduction cases to countries in Eastern Europe and West Africa. Russia is the largest caseload in my portfolio and is one of the most complex because Russia has the second largest caseload in Europe. Additionally, the United States does not have a treaty agreement with Russia to return children to their place of habitual residence.
A major strategic objective of CI is to encourage countries, without treaties in place, to shift bilaterally towards accession to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Without this convention, realistic remedies are few, leaving parents with little hope of having access to their children.
My experience in CI has been personally and professionally rewarding. One of my greatest accomplishments has been to reunite families after lengthy separations. I have also had the opportunity to serve on several task forces involving conflicts and natural disasters in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Serving on a Consular Affairs task force when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March 2011 put into perspective the value of our consular work domestically and abroad. Thousands of people relied on our assistance in locating family and friends who were missing in Japan. I enjoy the work and look forward to future consular opportunities.
AMBASSADORS PAST & PRESENT
By: Ambassador Ruth A. Davis
In the eight months since her arrival as Chief of Mission in Jamaica, three-time ambassador and former TLG President, Pamela E. Bridgewater has hosted several high-level visits including Secretary of State Clinton and the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of the Western Hemisphere; focused on trade expansion; lead the charge for LGBT issues; welcomed the Navy Medical ship, the USNS Comfort which provided primary care to 8,000 patients; and strengthened inter-agency cooperation within the Mission.
Amb. Bridgewater has focused the Jamaican public's attention on the high price of corruption, and has called for joint efforts to reduce its impact at all levels. The host government has responded positively by passing whistleblower legislation and calling for a special prosecutor for corruption. Benefiting from USAID and Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) funds, Jamaica’s Constabulary Force hosted the first regional conference on corruption.
Amb. Bridgewater has increased Public Diplomacy and outreach efforts. Her speeches to broad audiences run the gamut from, foreign policy, energy, education to de-stigmatizing HIV/AIDS. She has hosted receptions for the embassy's Youth Ambassadors and Sports Visitors, the Peace Corps 50th anniversary and for the Howard University Choir’s visit. Amb. Bridgewater lobbied for the assignment to Kingston of last year’s AFSA/TLG sponsored intern Nkechi Ekwunife. Nkechi arrived and has been actively learning Foreign Service life with stints so far in the consular and political sections before heading to the Front Office.
Ambassador Teddy B. Taylor sends warm greetings to TLG from Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the sunny South Pacific, where he and his team were busy preparing for the visit of EAP A/S Kurt Campbell and delegation traveling there to consult with government officials and civil society. The delegation’s itinerary consisted of broader Pacific Island travel including meetings with Helen Reed-Rowe, ambassador, to Koror, Palau, and C. Steven McGann ambassador to the Republics of Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, and the Kingdom of Tonga and Tuvalu.
Under Amb. Taylor’s leadership, his Embassy co-hosted with the Government of Papua New Guinea and the World Bank “The Pacific Women’s Empowerment Initiative Policy Dialogue; Healthy Women and Healthy Economies”. Ambassador Melanne Verveer led the US Delegation and was the Keynote speaker. The Dialogue was the result of Secretary Clinton’s very successful visit last year and is an effort by the US, PNG, Australia, New Zealand and the World Bank, to address gender equality in the Pacific.
Amb, Taylor hosted the United States Navy’s Pacific Partnership 2011 and the USS Cleveland in Vanuatu and PNG, a civilian/humanitarian exercise to provide small but sustainable development and to address basic health issues. During the Pacific Partnership the US Navy and US partners from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France and the host nations treated a combined total of over 15,000 medical patients and engaged in six engineering projects, including construction of classrooms, toilets, showers and water catchment systems. While neither location was in the capital, Amb. Taylor cleared his schedule to remain with our military personnel for the duration of their visits.
A very active former ambassador to Botswana, Horace G. Dawson, celebrated his 85th Birthday surrounded by friends and relatives at
Photo Credit: US Embassy Port Moresby
Howard University’s Blackburn Center in January, 2011. Dawson was heartily praised for the important role he played as an African American pioneer in the annals of the Foreign Service, the impact he had on the countries he served in, including Uganda, Nigeria, and the Philippines, and for the continuing influence he exerts as a mentor who has made an indelible impression on minorities throughout the ranks of the Foreign Service.
Amb. Dawson was the founding Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for International Affairs at Howard University, a position that he used to promote the Principals of Cooperation between Howard University and the US Department of State. Through the recruitment and mentoring that he has done for the Pickering Fellowship, many minorities have entered the Foreign Service and with the establishment of the Rangel Program at Howard, under his guidance, more than 100 people from underrepresented groups have entered the Service.
When former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gets the opportunity to discuss the influences on her life, she mentions that it was Horace Dawson who pushed her, to apply for an internship at the State Department. Rice says that Dawson sent her the internship application and when she asked numerous questions about the forms, he said “no more questions, just fill them out and send them in.” Serving at the State Department as an intern was Rice’s first exposure to working in foreign affairs. And the rest is history.
Jendayi E. Frazer, former Ambassador to South Africa and Assistant Secretary of State, was recently guest of honor at a reception hosted by former Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte to welcome her to the Board of Councilors of McLarty and Associates where she will consult on their Africa portfolio. Amb. Frazer is also serving as Distinguished Public Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon with joint appointments in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and in the H. John Heinz III College's School of Public Policy and Management. Additionally, she serves as Adjunct Senior Fellow in African Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Former Ambassador to the Central African Republic, Mattie Sharpless serves on the Trade Advisory Committee on Africa of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President which develops recommendations and advises the U.S. Trade Representative on policy issues related to economic development and trade with Sub-Saharan Africa. It is now following-up on issues discussed at the African Growth & Economic Act (AGOA) Forum held in Lusaka, Zambia in early June.
Amb. Sharpless is Co-Leader of the Global Poverty Initiative, which collected 300 pairs of women, men and children shoes in, April, in partnership with Soles4Soul. 100 pairs were donated to the Outfitter at Martha's Table in Washington, DC. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Scholarship Committee of the Xi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. which awarded, in May, over $18,000 in scholarships to 26 outstanding students. She also coordinated and led the Xi Omega/Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Team in the 2011 DC CROP WALK. Amb. Sharpless was the largest contributor for the fifth consecutive year, raising $3,829, with her team raising $5,410 to be used by Church World Services to help reduce hunger and help in disaster situations in the USA and around the world. Congratulations to Amb. Sharpless for all the good she is doing for people in need and to the TLG members who are assisting her!
Former Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia and to the Kingdom of Lesotho, Bismarck Myrick, is serving as Ambassador-in-Residence at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. During his Foreign Service career, Myrick was Principal Officer in Cape Town (1993 to 1995), and Principal Officer in Durban, South Africa from 1990 to 1993, where he helped manage U.S. policies during that nation's transformation from apartheid to non-racial democracy.
June Carter Perry, former Ambassador to Lesotho and to Sierra Leone is presently the Cyrus Vance Visiting Professor in International Affairs at Mount Holyoke College (Massachusetts) for 2011-12. She has maintained a busy speaking schedule including delivering the keynote speech at the Illinois Health Information Management's Annual Convention in Chicago where she addressed "Challenges to International Health Management in Developing Countries." At Loyola University in Chicago she spoke on African independence before an audience of international affairs and political science faculty, staff and students; and, later during a symposia at the University of South Carolina’s Law School, she gave presentations on "Rule of Law and Gender: Issues in International, National and Customary Law" and on "Rule of Law: Rebuilding Sierra Leone."
DIPLOMACY & SOCIAL MEDIA
PREPARING FOR GLOBAL LEADERSHIP: DIPLOMACY AND SOCIAL MEDIA
The following are remarks that Eunice Reddick, Diplomat in Residence at Howard University, presented at a Student Leadership Conference at Howard University’s Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center in October, 2010. The subject of the conference was “Preparing for Global Leadership.”
I am happy to have lived beyond the Millennium, survived Y2K, and experienced the beginning of the 21st century. But I am truly a diplomat of the 20th century. Although by mid-20th century sophisticated weaponry was changing the way war was conducted, we still used diplomatic tools that dated back several centuries. Special envoys could fly to their missions more quickly, and phone service made contact between world leaders easier. However, diplomacy was still conducted between a few elite officials. Diplomats interviewed contacts, drafted and sent telegrams, ambassadors were sent by the governments they represented to meet with heads of state and pass messages.
But something changed during the last decades of the 20th century that changed diplomacy forever and increased the challenges you will face as leaders. It was evident during “People Power” demonstrations in the Philippines, when huge masses of demonstrators moved as if by command to new locations. They knew where police were gathering and were able to avoid them. Larger and larger groups of people gathered without the orders of leaders. Within days, the will of the people in the crowds forced the president of the Philippines to step down.
What guided the people in the Philippines to express their desire for political change is a mass movement? The cell phone. The ability to use cell phones to send text messages organized a movement that could not be stopped once people began to follow the messages that expressed their desire for political change.
Who would have thought that the technology that started with a cell phone would, by the 21st century, result in Twitter and Facebook, bringing information almost instantaneously to people?
Political leaders, for example, have only touched the surface of the power of social media to influence elections. Access to video on the internet allows individuals and groups to send out messages to the world to achieve both good and bad results. Who can forget the internet broadcasts from Osama bin Laden?
The current administration is the first to try to use the power of new social media to spread messages about America’s interests and who Americans are and what we stand for. Secretary Clinton and President Obama clearly understand the power of appealing directly to the people to overcome seemingly frozen contacts with government officials or unmovable impressions of the United States.
Do you remember President Obama fielding questions from all over the African continent during his Town Hall meeting in Accra, Ghana? Similarly while in Cairo, the President answered questions from all over the Islamic world about America’s views on Islam.
The challenge to us as diplomats and leaders in the 21st century, I contend, will be how we use leadership skills to harness the power of new technology, like social media, for positive and constructive results. Leadership is defined as the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. Motivating will be increasingly difficult as people are constantly bombarded with information from all sources with increasingly sophisticated technology.
What are some of the qualities listed that might make a leader better able to deal with fast moving technological changes? Will the growing challenges for leaders mean that the qualities for a good leader will change? Let’s take a look at some of the
qualities for a good leader that the State Department has put together under the catchy name “13 Dimensions.” Cultural adaptability, information integration and analysis, initiative and leadership, judgment, oral and written communication, planning and organizing, resourcefulness, working with others.
The 13 Dimensions that the Department of State have identified as critical skills, abilities and personal qualities that are essential to succeed as a Foreign Service Officer are also essential for a successful diplomat in the Age of Social Media.
I’ve been talking about leadership challenges in terms of diplomacy, political movements, and social media campaigns. But leadership is required in many circumstances. You have been leaders in many situations when you perhaps did not know it, expect it, or held a formal title as leader.
How many of you have held formal leadership roles in student or community organizations? How many feel like they have played leadership roles without a formal title?
Colin Powell, one of my inspirational leaders, once said you can lead from any place in an organization. What does that mean? You don’t have to wait until you are in a formal leadership position to make a difference. I suggest that the core leadership skills needed to lead in an international setting are the same as those needed to succeed domestically or locally, here in the U.S. However, the leadership challenges in an international setting are often greater.
Cultural sensitivities may come into play when, for example, a woman leader is dealing with men from traditional societies in the Arab world, or when a younger person is negotiating a deal with an older Japanese counterpart. Effective oral and written communication skills are essential when you are negotiating any agreement, but there are additional challenges when the native languages and legal frameworks for each delegation are different.
As the Foreign Service is a profession where success depends on the ability to lead as individuals and as a nation in an international context, the types of skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this organization are similar to the types of skills that would make professionals in other areas more effective in an international or domestic context.
In closing, I would like to return to the story of the massive crowd movements in the streets of Manila. Someone was sending the text messages that moved thousands of people in unison. He or she was not a leader of a political party and probably did not have a formal title. But that individual was a leader that exhibited many of the qualities listed in the 13 Dimensions. All of you may be placed in a similar decisive situation, either domestically or as diplomats. Remember the power of a cell phone and technology, but also the need for leadership skills to make wise decisions regarding the technology that will increasingly have the power to change our lives.