OCTOBER 2012 NEWSLETTER
Take Me There...
Next year, TLG will celebrate its 40th anniversary. This will be an inspirational milestone, at which time TLG will showcase the values and ideals of African American professionals who possessed the vision and determination to establish a progressive organization designed to advance diversity issues within the international affairs arena. It will also be a time to honor the past presidents who accepted the challenge and carried the torch to engage, inspire and recruit officers to fulfill the TLG vision. As our membership rolls continue to grow, TLG will redouble efforts to promote our mission in new and creative ways.
TLG enjoys a positive and constructive dialogue with our leadership liaison Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides. He has taken our interests seriously and dedicated significant attention to improving key aspects of the Department’s management agenda.
Following TLG’s request for HR to keep better records concerning the racial and ethnic make up of Department personnel, employees can now voluntarily select their race and ethnicity within their personnel profiles, helping to ensure that the Department’s statistical records are accurate.
We also note that the Secretary approved an initiative to identify the best mid and senior level officers to serve on the Board of Examiners (BEX) in order to enhance BEX’s ability to identify the best pool of diverse Foreign Service officers. As an incentive, the Department will give credit for time served in BEX when considering candidates for onward assignments. We applaud positive developments occurring within the Department. TLG continues to recruit high profile speakers for MLK Day and Black History Month with the hope that the speakers will carry our message to those within their circles.
As a demonstration of our commitment to actively promote the organization, we recently minted our own commemorative TLG medallion to present to future speakers.
Finally we note proudly that the Thomas R. Pickering program celebrates its 20th year, and likewise the Charles Rangel program marks its 10th year of operations in 2012. Fifteen years ago, TLG was instrumental in the renaming of the State Department library, the Ralph Bunche Library.
We hope that you enjoy this edition of the Newsletter which provides significant insight into the careers and accomplishments of TLG members. Let’s continue to work together to build on TLG’s nearly four decades of stellar achievement.
EUR PDAS TINA KAIDANOW ADDRESSES TLG
As part of TLG’s speaker program, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Tina Kaidanow delivered a rousing message titled, “The Future of Europe and the European Union’s Financial Crisis”. She skillfully described the historical underpinnings of the creation of the Euro currency, and how the debt crises emerged within the 17 countries comprising the European Union. PDAS Kaidanow opened her remarks by explaining how integrally linked Europe is to global financial markets. She highlighted the fact that in 2010, U.S. exports to Europe were three times the number of exports sent to China.
Additional, one of out every five workers in the United States produces a service or product that is directly related to Europe in some way. These facts highlighted the importance of U.S.-European relations and why U.S. interests remain high as it relates to Europe’s financial standing. She continued her message by stating that the Euro is a currency without a country. The Euro was established through a set of rules and treaties. One of the key aspects of the set of agreements was that 17 countries issued debt in one currency. The Euro worked well in generating cost controls, but it did not work well within those countries with high debt levels. Although Greece and Italy had high debt to GDP rates, they were still allowed to join the Eurozone. After 2001, as the Eurozone became more prosperous, wages, pensions, and bureaucracies began to grow. By 2010, some countries’ debt had grown to record levels and required them to request bailouts to keep their respective government operations going. It was the negative practices of some, which created the crisis, and ultimately forced the question as to whether member states should redistribute resources in order to maintain stability. PDAS Kaidanow explained that the U.S. was a key ally in working with the Europeans to identify a way forward as the impact of continued financial decline would be significant. She closed her remarks with a call to TLG members to strongly consider jobs in the EUR Bureau.
THE HONORABLE HAROLD FORD, JR. KEYNOTES MLK DAY EVENT
By: Marion Ekpuk
John Robinson opened the program, noting that Secretary Clinton and Deputy Secretary William Burns wanted those assembled to understand how important this occasion is in the eyes of our most senior leadership. Before he invited Deputy Secretary Burns to the podium, Mr. Robinson introduced Shed a Little Light, an anthem written by James Taylor to honor Dr. King.
Deputy Secretary Burns praised Dr. King, who held no government position, as one of the greatest United States ambassadors. He said that Dr. King’s work changed the character of our country, and his legacy lives in millions of people
In remarks delivered at the culminating event of the Department’s month-long celebration of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, The Honorable Harold Ford Jr. said he hoped the American people could engage in courageous, fact-based debates on the issues facing this country as he celebrated the ways the work of the Department of State furthers the work of Dr. King.
Mr. Ford spoke to Thursday Luncheon Group members and other Department officials in a program that included remarks by Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, John Robinson, Chief Diversity Officer and Director of the Office of Civil Rights, and TLG President Stacy D. Williams. Other key themes were the importance of Dr. King’s work to the Department’s diversity efforts; how the founding values Dr. King fought for in the United States became the rights and values diplomats and development workers promote around the world; and the duty to be responsible citizens and conscientious stewards of freedom.
Photo Credit: Michael Gross
around the world who are standing up to injustice and to claim their universal rights. The very name of Dr. King, Mr. Burns said, has become a touchstone for people around the world seeking rights, dignity, social justice, and decency, grounded in a sense of common humanity. As an organization, he added, we strive to practice what we preach, making much-needed progress to improve diversity since he joined the Department in 1982. We still have a long way to go, he concluded, but we are committed to ensuring those hired to represent the US to the world are truly representative of the American people.
DEPUTY SECRETARY THOMAS R. NIDES ADDRESSES TLG
On March 22, Deputy Secretary of State and TLG leadership liaison Thomas Nides addressed TLG members in the Van Buren Dining room at the Department of State. His remarks were well received by over 55 guests and covered a range of issues from diversity to an indepth conversation of his portfolio to progress being made through the Department’s Economic Statecraft initiative. Deputy Secretary Nides opened the luncheon with his journey to the State Department. He described a career trajectory that involved political campaigns, working on the Hill and senior posts in corporate America. He stated that he had great mentors who believed in him and challenged him to set himself up for success. He believes strongly that State can do a better job on diversity, especially at the senior ranks, and expressed his willingness to work with TLG in this regard.
He shared with members that the Secretary charged him to focus on four key areas during her Administration: Iraq transition, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the budget. In so doing, he had to find a way to explain to the public the importance of national security and the need to get it right. Shortly after his arrival, he established the “Top Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department."
As the Department’s chief operating officer, he explained that when we request funding and foreign assistance on the Hill, the members of Congress must explain to their constituents how the money is being spent. State as an Institution must recognize these concerns and do more to help others understand our role on the international stage and really drive home the return on investment.
TLG members were pleased with the Deputy Secretary’s presentation and commented on how personable he was in his engagement with the group. We are indeed fortunate that the Deputy Secretary reserved time to meet with our members.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER INITIATIVE SHARES CAREER INSIGHTS
By: Clayton Bond
What if you could access over 150 years worth of distinguished Foreign Service career experience with a click? TLG’s Knowledge Transfer Initiative, first introduced in the August 2010 newsletter, offers just such an opportunity for members. Interviews with five pioneers of the Foreign Service – Ambassadors Edward Perkins, Terence Todman, Ruth A. Davis, Aurelia Brazeal and Sylvia Stanfield – are now available on the TLG’s password-protected website, http://thursdayluncheongroup. org/. Without question, eager readers will find that the interview records are indeed empowering, instructive and intellectually stimulating.
Among the tips shared by the interviewees were that there is no set path to a successful Foreign Service career, in terms of a series of particular assignments. But there are some approaches officers can take that can be helpful, such as cultivating a wide network of contacts – both inside and outside of the Department; mentoring and being mentored; speaking up – for yourself and to share your perspective on issues; and recognizing learning opportunities as they constantly arise, particularly when confronting negative circumstances. Special thanks to April Wells for developing the concept, and another huge thank you to our Pioneers for taking the time to share their remarkable experiences. The following TLG members conducted the interviews: Melanie Bonner, Craig Stafford, Jared Yancey, and Stacy D. Williams.
By: Joslyn Mack-Wilson
On May 19, members of the Thursday Luncheon Group joined Hands on DC to help improve the Dorothy Height Community Academy Public Charter School (CAPCS)-Butler Campus. Located in the heart of downtown just off Scott Circle, CAPCS includes preschool through 5th grade, and serves a diverse population of African American (65%), Hispanic (27.5%), Caucasian (27.5%), Asian Pacific Islander (4.3%) and other (1.9%) students. Inspired by the legacy of civil rights giant Dorothy Height, the school reminds its students: always do your best; always respect yourself, others, and the environment; and always exhibit pride, honor, and scholarship. At our every turn in the school, we passed photos of a young, beautiful Dorothy Height. Many of the photos were displayed at a child’s eye level, so that young minds could learn of the civil rights giant and school’s namesake.
TLG members were happy to spend a Saturday morning making CAPSC’s environment a little livelier for its young students. We helped clear out old planters, replaced the soil, and planted fresh new flowers in the school’s courtyard. Another group of TLG members dedicated their morning to repainting the school’s stage so that the kids would have a nice venue to showcase their talents. Others put their skills to use painting the school’s stairwell and drawing a map of the world that kids could admire as they walked to classes.
TLG members expressed different reasons for coming out that day. For some, this was a welcomed chance to help out in the community, while others had a particular interest in DC schools. In the end, we had a good time, had a chance to get to know each other a little better, and demonstrated TLG support for a great cause. Special thanks to Antrease Brown, Bernadette Cole Byrd, Dane Ferguson, Carole Jackson, Heidi Kaplan, Joslyn Mack-Wilson, Raymond Maxwell, Eunice Reddick, Craig Stafford, and Justin Zimmerman for all their hard work! A lot of you have expressed an interest in more community service activities; we look forward to our next TLG community service outing.
PROFILE OF TWO HIGHEST RANKING AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT
Ambassador Suzan D. Johnson Cook
By: Acquania Escarne
Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook brings a wealth of experience to the U.S. Department of State, serving as the first African-American in the position of Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. She is widely known as the first black woman to: serve as president of the 10,000-member Hampton University Ministers' Conference; to be elected the senior pastor of the 200-year-old American Baptist Churches of the USA; and to be appointed Chaplain of the New York Police Department. It is through her current role that she serves the American people by traveling the world to advocate for people’s right to religious freedom, balancing the fine line of advancing both religion and diplomacy.
Ambassador Johnson Cook was officially sworn in on May 16, 2011 and has traveled to five continents and led interfaith delegations to Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and throughout the Caribbean. She worked with World Vision in Switzerland in its efforts to combat global poverty, and traveled to Zimbabwe and South Africa to meet with Zulu faith leaders to promote interfaith dialogue and tolerance. The majority of her work focuses in on implementing Human Rights Council resolution 1618 through the hosting of international conferences, bilateral
meetings and webcasts, advancing strategic dialogue with civil society, and promoting social media initiatives. She recalls fondly her time accompanying the Secretary to Istanbul to generate synergies with international interlocutors. Her office is also responsible for producing the annual congressionally mandated religious freedom report focusing on 198 countries.
Serving within President Barack Obama’s Administration is not Ambassador Johnson Cook’s first time working at the highest levels within government. In 1993, she was a White House Fellow assigned to the Domestic Policy Council, where she advised President Clinton on a range of issues including homelessness, violence, and community empowerment. She also worked with the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development on faith-based initiatives from 1994 until 1997. Due to her success, President Clinton appointed her to serve on his National Initiative on Race, in 1997, and she was his only faith advisor.
Despite her accomplishments, Ambassador Johnson Cook remains humble and can easily recall the days when she was a mother trying to finish school, raise her children, and be an outstanding wife. In a panel before students interested in pursuing careers in the government, she provided practical tips to women interested in pursuing government careers and families. Ambassador Johnson Cook is married with two children and has been featured prominently from Time Out New
York to Ebony Magazine to Good Morning America and The Tavis Smiley Show.
Reta Jo Lewis
By: Mary J. Pensabene
Committed to building relationships with elected leaders and officials below the national level globally, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton created in January 2010 the Office of the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (S/SRGIA) and announced Reta Jo Lewis as the first senior official in this position.
Ms. Lewis’ background in the private sector, national and local government, made her an ideal selection for this new role. Previously, she had served as Director of Business Outreach on the Obama-Biden Transition Team; U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Counselor to the President; Special Assistant for Political Affairs at the Clinton White House; and Chief of Staff in one of the District of Columbia’s largest agencies, the Department of Public Works; and as an attorney in private practice. In addition, Ms. Lewis, who has maintained a municipal and international focused law practice, plays an active role in community and civic activities, including membership in the International Women’s Forum and served as the national tour director for the first Nelson Mandela eight city USA tour.
Special Representative Lewis’ office serves as a gateway platform for connectivity between state and local officials in the United States and their foreign counterparts around the world. The office convenes, connects and collaborates with
subnational officials. She not only provides a bridge between state and local leaders to their peers, she also helps to build partnerships with the private sector through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and in-country confederations of industries.
Special Representative Lewis has developed strategic alliances with the academic community and private sector to further state-to-state engagement and has built a record of leading diverse initiatives to promote global engagement with state and local leaders in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, and South Africa, among others, and in other emerging centers of global influence.
During her tenure, Special Representative Lewis has traveled to over 11 Brazilian cities and states to expand relationships between U.S. mayors and governors and their counterparts in Brazil to encourage collaboration in areas such as education, cultural and technical exchanges, sustainable development, social inclusion, and preparation for the 2014
World Cup and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a result, exchanges between Brazilian and U.S. subnational entities have become more numerous and robust.
Moving forward, Special Representative Lewis is committed to increasing interaction between key state and local officials and their counterparts abroad, business leaders, and members of academic institutions to further develop opportunities to broaden and deepen U.S. bilateral ties.
THE NEWS CONTINUES...
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER CELEBRATES CARIBBEAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
By: Makila James and Stephanie Robinson
On June 27, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs commemorated Caribbean-American Heritage Month, and was honored to welcome Attorney General Eric Holder as the event’s keynote speaker. Attorney General Holder described how immigrant life has impacted him and how that background helped shape his world perspective. He stressed
that upholding the values of the American Dream -- progress and opportunity; fairness and equality; and justice -- is a goal and responsibility that we all share. His inspiring remarks urged the audience to seize the opportunity and recommit themselves to building on the work of those pursuing the American Dream before them. Equality, justice, progress, and opportunity, are not just American values, but universal values. Attorney General Holder highlighted how the U.S. Departments of State and Justice are working with Caribbean countries to advance these values by collaborating on areas of common interest like citizen protection, securing our borders, combating gang and drug violence, empowering women, promoting social growth, and strengthening economic diversity.
The day's events afforded the Department and guests the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the many contributions of Caribbean-Americans to the United States, while setting the stage for future Caribbean diaspora engagement that will lead to even more vibrant and cross cultural ties.
CIVIL SERVICE DETAIL TO EMBASSY MOSCOW
By: Dane Ferguson
I was fortunate to be selected by EUR to serve a three-month detail at U.S. Embassy Moscow. This experience enriched my knowledge and broadened my outlook on life. I served in the Environmental, Science, Technology, and Health (ESTH) section, which gave me the opportunity to leverage my language and cultural awareness following my years in the corporate world. The lessons learned were invaluable.
During my brief assignment, I worked on a number of projects including: the development of a volunteer visitors program for Russian state-enterprises to visit the U.S. to gain a better understanding of how large corporations explore, develop, and maintain an innovative culture; represented the Embassy at the “Nano-Giga Forum” and gave a brief presentation on U.S.-Russian science and educational exchange programs (e.g. Fulbright); represented the Embassy at the “Interra Conference – Youth Innovation forum”; volunteered to speak at the American Corner and engaged the public on the importance of diversity in the U.S. and Russia; and engaged in a promotional function for the USPS semi-postal stamp “Save Vanishing Species” at the Moscow Zoo. The ESTH section was fully supportive of my visit. I felt very much at home, outside the U.S. and felt like a team member in a progressive and energetic section lead by Lynette Poulton and her Deputy Isabella Detwiler.
The cultural experience in Moscow was quite unique. Leading up to my assignment in Moscow, I reviewed the history of the country. As a result, I felt familiar with the nation. There was no education that would absolutely prepare one for life in Moscow and/or Russia, but overall, the experience was wonderful and memorable. I am grateful for the guidance and wisdom shared by Ambassador Pamela Spratlen who served as Consul General in Vladivostok, TLG member Tony Fernandes who served in Embassy Moscow previously, and my fellow colleagues in preparing me for the opportunity.
STUDYING CHINESE: A WORTHWHILE CHALLENGE
By: Daniel K. Delk, Jr.
“Ma” is easy enough to pronounce. But depending on which of four tones you use to say it, “ma” can refer to your mother, a horse, a command to hurry up, or just an indicator that you’re asking a question. Reading, with over 50,000 characters, is even more difficult. A commitment to serve in China is no easy undertaking. Chinese is classified as one of four “super hard” languages for a reason and sometimes it feels like two years of study is hardly enough. Studying Chinese is the price we pay to play in arguably the most important theatre of international relations of my generation in the Foreign Service. We all know that nothing worthwhile comes easy, so despite the difficulty of learning Chinese the benefits are equally impressive. Three-quarters of the way through my training, I can say with confidence that studying Chinese is a worthwhile investment both personally and professionally.
First, learning Chinese opens the door to nearly a dozen posts. Mainland China has seven posts; Taiwan has two; and both Malaysia and Singapore have Chinese language positions. Second, there are generous financial incentives to gain Chinese language proficiency through the Language Incentive Program which increases with repeat tours. Also, the Department is finding innovative ways to increase our Chinese language bench strength. A couple of years ago, the Department began a Chinese pilot program for entry level officers. Under the program, ELOs commit to a five year program that includes a year of language training at FSI, one year of service in China followed by another year of language in-country and another two-year tour.
For me, one of the best aspects of the two year program is the opportunity to study Chinese in-theatre. The second year of language study for both the pilot program and the traditional 88-week program takes place in one of several locations within greater China. The Chinese Language and Area Studies School (CLASS) in Taipei, where I am privileged to study, is one of FSI’s oldest field schools dating back over fifty years during the era of USG recognition of Chiang Kai Shek’s government in Taiwan. In recent years, FSI has added programs in Beijing and Shanghai as an option for students heading to onward assignments in those cities who would prefer to avoid relocating twice in two years.
In addition to excellent classroom instruction, CLASS encourages students to take full advantage of local resources to enhance the learning experience. For example, in the third and fourth quarters, CLASS offers electives on topics including calligraphy, Tai Chi and modern Chinese films. In January, I spent a week working as part of a news team with a major television station here. One memorable experience was spending the day following around a major presidential candidate on her campaign stops just before the elections! In addition CLASS offers after-hours tutors if needed. In short, they want you to succeed and provide every opportunity for students to reach their goals.
TLG has several distinguished CLASS alumni among our numbers including Ambassadors Sylvia Stanfield, Bernadette Allen and Eunice Reddick. Current AIT Deputy Director (DCM-equivalent) Eric Madison is on his second tour in Taipei and is universally regarded as one of the top CLASS alumni by current faculty. More recently, Wylita Bell graduated from CLASS before heading out to the PD section in Shanghai. Qiana Bradford is in her first year of language at FSI in preparation for her role has PAO in Guangzhou and Osborne Burks begins language training this summer en route to Beijing as a deputy visa chief in a section that adjudicated over 1 million visas last year. However, historically our numbers have been low and I encourage more TLG members to consider bidding Chinese language jobs.
2012 AFSA/TLG SUMMER INTERN
In June, TLG welcomed Angela Addae to the State Department as this year’s AFSA/TLG summer intern. Angela, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is currently enrolled in a doctoral Sociology program at the University of Arizona. This summer, she served on the India desk and was responsible for identifying subnational initiatives to advance between cities in the United States and India. Angela took full advantage of networking opportunities, AFSA and TLG events, and navigating the city of Washington, DC. On her return to Arizona, she took a moment to send a letter to TLG members.
I’m settled back in Tucson and the semester has gotten off to a great start! I love when people ask me how my summer went because it opens the door for an exciting conversation about Washington D.C. and the things I learned about the State Department. I’ve also been in contact with the Diplomat-in-Residence for our area, Philip Egger, and we’re coordinating plans for me to share my experiences with students at a career fair that he will be attending here later this month.
I’ve had some time to reflect on my internship and I could not have imagined how valuable the entire experience would be to my overall perspective about a career in foreign affairs. I appreciate how the State Department brings together people with different backgrounds, cultures, and bodies of knowledge to advocate for a common cause.
There were two defining moments of my internship. The first was my attendance at the swearing-in ceremony for Makila James, ambassador to Swaziland. I had never met (or even heard of) Makila James before this summer, but I literally fought tears as I witnessed her taking the oath. It was an emotional experience because I felt a sense of pride as her family and colleagues reaped the fruits of not just her labor, but also the labor of our community. We have all had an instance when we saw someone and thought, “Hmm… That could be me.” That historical moment enabled me to imagine myself
standing on that same podium taking on one of the highest positions in the U.S. Foreign Service.
I’m currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Sociology. My research topic is Social Entrepreneurship, which is a new phenomenon in which organizations combine business strategies with the motives of non-profits. When I began my summer at the State Department, I was unsure how/if my educational and research goals would align with a career in the State Department—which leads me to my second defining moment. While volunteering for the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum, I had the opportunity to meet Bill Drayton of the Ashoka Foundation. Bill Drayton, considered to be the “Father of Social Entrepreneurship,” reminded me of the government’s agenda toward social entrepreneurship and how closely intertwined that agenda was with U.S. foreign policy.
Overall, I had a fantastic experience. While on the India desk, I worked mainly on the economic portfolio. I created subnational engagement investment profiles for cities in India that would allow us to facilitate city-to-city partnerships between the cities in the United States and in India. I learned that the duties of a desk officer are vast, extensive, and can change at a moment’s notice of the next big occurrence.
TLG was an integral part of my internship. Everyone I met was extremely supportive and accommodating, all eager to share knowledge and point me in the right direction. Because of this, I oftentimes wished that several other interns could have access to the abundance of knowledge and collective years of experience within TLG. I recommend that TLG begin to actively incorporate like-minded interns who share the vision of the organization. Hosting a Brown Bag event or Happy Hour each term would allow interns to connect with State employees that look like them. Also, a gathering would create a network of interns who may have not otherwise interacted and it could facilitate relationships among future colleagues.
If the mission of the AFSA/TLG internship program is to expose minority students to the infinite possibilities within the Foreign Service, consider this: Mission Accomplished.
NOTE: TLG members can read more about the AFSA/TLG program and review a historical listing of all the interns at the following link: http://www.afsa.org/minority_internships.aspx.
TLG is pleased to highlight the assignment of our newest set of ambassadors to three different regions of the world. Ambassador Larry Palmer has taken up his post in Barbados, Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley to Malta, and most recently Ambassador Makila James has arrived in to Swaziland. We congratulate these impassioned leaders as they continue the long line of successful African-American Ambassadors.
TLG is also excited to acknowledge that Joyce Barr was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary for Administration in December of 2011. As A/S, she is responsible for the administration of a variety of functions ranging from logistics, acquisitions, maintenance, allowances, overseas schools, records management, privacy programs, the Working Capital Fund and presidential travel. Former ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield was sworn in on April 2, 2012 as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources. Marcia Bernicat joined the DG’s office as a Deputy Assistant Secretary. Both Barr and Thomas-Greenfield oversee large, complex operations and hundreds of staff. Congratulations to them both as they lead our management efforts within the Department.
TLG lifetime member, Tuli Mushingi assumed duties as Deputy Executive Secretary within the Secretary’s Executive Secretariat. Just a few doors down, Lawrence Randolph is currently serving as S Special Assistant, and Oni Blair is assigned to Deputy Secretary Burns’ Office as a Special Assistant. All three are representative of TLG’s finest officers.
State Department photographer Margaret Ann Thomas recently retired after 33 years of service. Ann was widely known for her candid photographs taken during numerous TLG events. Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley chronicled Ann’s remarkable career journey in the April 2012 edition of State magazine. TLG salutes Ann’s artistic contributions as she retires to Virginia.
Willeah Cato was conferred the Order of Merit, by the Chilean Embassy, which is one of the highest awards given to foreigners. During a ceremony in June, Embassy representatives recognized Willeah’s significant contributions and “can do spirit” as desk officer during the 2010 Chilean earthquake.
Deneyse Kirkpatrick was selected to participate in the September 2012 class of the International Career Advancement Program in Apsen, Colorado. Deneyse joins a long list of State Department participants and will bring a broad perspective to the group dynamic as a former Pickering Fellow, a Foreign Service assignment in Brazil and current role in INL.
Congratulations to Presidential Management Fellow, Ian Moss, who was recently selected for term membership at the Council on Foreign Relations. Ian is currently assigned to the Special Advisor to the Office of Guantanamo Closure.
Shelby Smith-Wilson was featured prominently in the May 2012 Edition of Essence Magazine. The magazine profiled Shelby’s FSO career and she provided advice in balancing career and family, and insights into the bidding process. Shelby is currently assigned as political chief in Panama. Kim McClure, currently assigned to the US Mission to the UN in New York, also provided useful information on study abroad and fellowship opportunities.
Sharon Cooke was recently promoted to the Executive Assistant position in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Sharon has done a fantastic job of implementing a new process for managing paper within the Bureau.
TLG members were saddened to learn of the passing of the Rev. John Gravely and his wife Blondeen, and Thomas Jefferson, Jr. over the summer. Both Gravely and Jefferson led by example in advancing TLG’s mission within the Department. They will be sorely missed.
I am a management-coned officer, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary in NEA. I have been involved in transition-to-democracy efforts and elections in Libya and Tunisia, constitutional reform and trade/development issues in Morocco, and deepening of bilateral relations with Algeria. From a macro view, we are concerned about economic regional integration across the Maghreb, where we work closely with EB, and counter-terrorism and non-proliferation efforts in the North Africa region, where we collaborate with AF, CT, INL, and various offices in the T family. We also work closely with various offices in the J family on global issues such as human rights, trafficking in persons, religious freedom, etc.
During a stint as a naval officer, I found myself attracted to diplomatic aspects of naval service, visiting foreign ports, dealing with local officials on various privileges and immunities, and training with foreign navies. After a long deployment, during which I had conversations with Foreign Service officers at several port stops, I returned home and took the Foreign Service exam.
I have had outstanding mentors over the years, and my relationship with them, listening to and following through on their advice, has contributed largely to my success. One important lesson I have learned, from my mentors and as a mentor myself, is that having mentors does not mean shopping around for the advice that may sound best because it is easiest. Once or twice, mentors have given tough advice that turned out to be accurate and helpful, though the follow-through was not painless.
For example, when I first sought a PMO position, coming out of Ops, the then deputy director told me I should do a management officer position overseas first, then go for the PMO job. The advice was sound, nevertheless. And I benefitted from it. Later on, a mentor encouraged me to take a job that required long-term language training. I feared that language training would delay my next promotion, but he cautioned me to focus less on the next promotion and more on getting into a job where I could showcase the leadership, management and policy skills that would get me across the senior threshold. My fears were unfounded, it all worked out, and he was right.
I think it is also important to have the proper sequence and diversity of assignments. I personally have found it useful to rotate between related overseas and domestic jobs. It is important to understand how Washington works, how the various bureaus function. In my twenty years of service, for example, I have spent seven years in Washington, in geographic bureaus (AF and NEA) and doing staff work in functional bureaus (S, A and M).
A willingness to take on tough jobs in difficult places has also been a key factor, both for getting more desirable assignments and for promotions. But I hasten to add here, it is not enough to go to a tough job; you have to go there and do well, by inspiring and earning the confidence of your boss, your colleagues, and your subordinates.
Finally, we all run into bad bosses somewhere in our careers. Having a bad boss can be an extremely destabilizing experience. If you get one, make it a learning experience, find a way to benefit, and get back on track after that part of your journey is over.
I am a consular –coned officer, serving as Consul General (Principal Officer) in Naples, Italy. I am responsible for coordinating all USG policy in southern Italy, which includes significant interaction with regional politicians and a large U.S. military
I had the opportunity to live in Italy while I was a JAG officer with the U.S. Navy. I found interacting with the local nationals to be very stimulating and I enjoyed trying to learn the language. I was also drawn to the differences in legal systems as I studied International Private law in Paris after I left the U.S. Navy. I began my career in the Foreign Service in 1992.
I have found that making sure your supervisors know that you are working for their best interest, helps develop trust and they will give you more opportunities for professional development. This is a competitive business so it is important to take any responsibility assigned as a serious matter and to listen well to those who have achieved a certain level of success. I recall while volunteering for an evacuation, I met briefly with an Assistant Secretary who recognized that I was alert and enthusiastic even in the early hours when there was very little activity. Later, she endorsed my highest bid on a very desirable job.
Listening to senior officers during their post visits resulted in me being frankly told that it is necessary to get your “shoes dusty” and run your own section to stay in the running for promotion. So I went to a job that no one wanted and I was promoted quickly and using that career enhancing independence helped make my future promotions into the Senior Foreign Service faster than average. It is important to try out your ideas even under difficult circumstances, but you have to make sure those around you have trust in your goals. When I was feeling overwhelmed with cases in an office in a Consular Affairs position in Washington, I decided to develop a reorganization plan that included using a modern data base that some of my colleagues resisted trying. I lobbied them so they would understand that I wanted to make our lives easier. The result was we got on the cutting edges in case management and I made solid professional friends for life.
Only doing your job will not get you promoted! You have to show that you can solve the tough problems that further
USG polices. I have always looked for weakness in a system where I can show my strength. The weakness just may be where your boss needs help. This includes helping out before and AFTER events, mentoring interns and reaching out to other sections to spread the knowledge about your section. Finally, I think until you get to the Senior Level, you need to stay in your cone and get to know the senior people and issues in your cone. Try to bring some innovation to your cone. Final word: Be kind to those you meet on your way up. You will see them again on your way down.
COMINGS & GOINGS
TLG Lifetime Member, Jessica Davis Ba has arrived in Baghdad after a tour in Nairobi as Deputy Economic Counselor that followed an assignment as Political/Economic Officer for the Somalia Affairs Unit. In Nairobi, Jessica was active in supporting the political, economic and social advancement of women in both Kenya and Somalia. Her family, including five sons, remains in safe haven in Nairobi. In Iraq, she is the Deputy Director of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) section, managing close to $300 million in programs to improve Iraq's civilian security sector and strengthen the rule of law. Jessica writes, “With INL, I am getting great program, personnel, and resource management experience, and seeking creative ways to insert issues like gender and human rights into our approach to enhance the rule of law. Recently we hosted DG Thomas-Greenfield on her first visit to Iraq. She gave an extremely informative presentation at a town hall meeting and I had the great pleasure of getting a big hug from her afterwards. It was awesome to be able to say that she is one of my mentors. When feeling isolated overseas, I am reminded that our system is made up of real people and our individual actions and decisions matter.”
Tanya Anderson has ‘hit the ground running” in her new assignment as Consul General in one of the most desirable posts in the Mediterranean – Barcelona. In addition to hosting the Ambassador, during her first month at post, and traveling with him to Andorra, Tanya has taken an active role in assisting the steering committee of The International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), of which Ambassador Ruth A. Davis is Chair, to plan for its October Conference in Barcelona. Tanya secured the agreement of the US Commercial Officer in Madrid to hold a session on doing business in the USA for the IWEC audience of highly successful international businesswomen. Tanya previously served as Director of the Office of Regional and Security Policy in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs and she has enjoyed PD assignments in the Philippines, the Middle East and Baghdad.
Clayton Bond has returned to the Department after a tour in Djakarta and is now serving as Post Management Officer for Anglophone and Lusophone West Africa. Clayton has also been posted overseas in Bogota and New Delhi. He is a prolific writer and has been published in AFSA’s “Inside a U.S. Embassy” and is the author of “Djakarta Djournal” which can be purchased through Amazon and other online booksellers.
Stacy Session completed her assignment in Lagos and training at FSI and has arrived in San Salvador as Cultural Affairs Officer. Stacy departed Lagos with many fond memories of many interesting professional challenges, working with amazing colleagues, traveling throughout Nigeria and neighboring countries and welcoming visits by family and friends. She writes to TLG that she is impressed with her new assignment where there is an excellent LES staff, good housing and plenty of interesting work.
TLG sends best wishes to Laura Taylor-Kale who resigned from the Department in June after nine outstanding years. As an FSO she tackled, with notable success, some of the Department’s most difficult assignments, including experiences at the forefront of the war on terrorism in Afghanistan, an assignment in India during the burgeoning U.S.-India bilateral relationship, and in Cote d’Ivoire, a country wrought with challenges of democratization in a post conflict
environment. Although she was sad to leave, the World Bank made an offer she could not refuse as Special Assistant for the Vice President of Sustainable Development.
Atim George has retired. She began her career in 1982 and served overseas in Santo Domingo, Tijuana, Managua, Matamoros, Pretoria, Addis Ababa, Lagos, Abuja and domestically in AF/PD, REE, S/CT. Her last assignment was Visiting Fellow and Diplomat in Residence at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.
AMBASSADORS PAST & PRESENT
Ambassador Wanda Nesbitt sends greetings from Windhoek, Namibia where she is actively encouraging girls and women to break through barriers and reach new heights. As part of her Mission’s youth outreach program, she brought together dozens of girls with successful female entrepreneurs for a networking and mentoring event that received rave reviews from all involved (see photo). Her advice to them: “If you believe in yourself and follow your heart, success will find you” -- may also be of interest to TLG members. Ambassador Nesbitt is also deeply involved in overseeing one of only three PEPFAR transition programs in the world and hopes Namibia will become a model of ‘country ownership’ in its full sense.
Teddy B. Taylor, will assume his duties as Diplomat-in-Residence at Howard University after completing an outstanding tour of duty as ambassador to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu. Taylor, who was recently seen on MSNBC greeting the Secretary on her travels in the Pacific, says that this was “the best assignment in the Foreign Service.” We look forward to having him back and know that he will use the provisions of the memorandum of cooperation between the Department and Howard to enhance the University’s emphasis on international affairs and to attract first-rate students to careers in foreign affairs.
Ambassador to Montenegro, Sue K. Brown writes, “I am doing fine and enjoying my posting. The Mission personnel are talented, energetic and hard working; the Montenegrins are welcoming and the country is stunning. Our Mission’s overriding priority is to support Montenegro in its pursuit of the rule of law, market-based prosperity, and a thriving democracy, all ultimately leading to membership in both NATO and the European Union. We had a very successful workshop (co-sponsored with the Italian Embassy) on Models of Legislation for Combating Organized Crime. Also, Former U.S. Ambassador to Austria, Swanee Hunt, was here for a program on Peace and Security and Women’s Empowerment. I am very honored to serve my country as Ambassador.
Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, Pamela L. Spratlen has settled in well at her post after receiving a 4/3 on her Russian Exam at FSI. Gone, but not forgotten, she is fondly remembered in her previous post, Astana, Kazakhstan as several Astana staff were promoted based on their performance and her EER writing.
C. Steven McGann is the Vice Chancellor of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) at the National Defense University, Washington, D.C. His responsibilities include strengthening global partnerships to enhance strategic cooperation and developing curriculum for implementation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. His teaching duties focus on the role of small states in international security. From 2008-11 he was Ambassador to the Republics of Fiji, Nauru, Kiribati, and the Kingdom of Tonga and Tuvalu where his achievements centered on democracy building, law enforcement cooperation, fisheries protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation. He oversaw the expansion of the U.S. diplomatic presence in the Pacific that made Embassy Suva a regional hub post and completion of a $60 million new embassy chancery compound.
Former ambassador to Mauritius and the Seychelles, Mary Jo Wills, is on detail to NDU/College Security Affairs, Ft. McNair Washington. During her tenure as ambassador she successfully concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Government of the Seychelles to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and garnered unprecedented support of the Government of Mauritius on key votes on gender, sexual orientation, and renewal of human rights mandates in the United Nations Council on Human Rights. She is also working on her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech and will write her thesis on Africa related issues.
The Department has suffered a lost by the retirement of several members of TLG who enjoyed ambassadorial rank:
After 50 years of outstanding service to his country, Ambassador Charles Ray celebrated his retirement in August at a very moving Flag ceremony presided over by Director General Linda Thomas-Greenfield. Ray was toasted for his incredible career including ambassadorships to Cambodia and Zimbabwe, Ho Chi Minh City, where he opened the first US Consulate, Guangzhou and Shenyang, China and Freetown, Sierra Leone. Before joining the Foreign Service in 1982, he had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army. He is a passionate advocate for POW and Personnel Recovery issues. While on detail to the Department of Defense as Assistant Secretary for Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Affairs, he concluded an agreement with China that gave us access to army archives enabling better research on personnel losses during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Ray is a noted author and has published several books on leadership.
Ambassador Barry Wells, who served as Chief of Mission to the Republic of the Gambia, was the first African American Civil Service employee to receive an ambassadorial appointment. TLG congratulates him for his many accomplishments in the field of education and public service. Amb. Wells came to the Department via Howard University’s Graduate School of Social Work and the Peace Corps. In 1988, he began a 17-year tenure at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) that culminated with his
service as Deputy Director. The Leadership and Management School and the School of applied Information Technology are a part of his legacy, as he was a key member of the teams that conceived and established them. Perhaps Ambassador Wells is most appreciated for the work he did as Director of the Office of Civil Rights and his role in developing the Department’s mandatory diversity training. Barry and his wife are retiring to Lakewood Ranch, Florida.
Ambassador Maurice Parker, who served as Consul General in Barcelona, Spain and ambassador to Swaziland from 2008 to 2010 followed by an assignment as Diplomat-in-Residence at the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) has retired to Sonoma, California. Besides enjoying retirement, he is working with a leadership program at the University of California at Berkeley to select fellowship candidates for the University’s Leadership Seminar. He is also active with the Cal Berkeley Alumni Association, frequently briefing students on careers in the Foreign Service.
Ambassador Roger Pierce and his wife Jo Ann are settling in Sarasota, Florida after an exciting career of 34 years in the Foreign Service. His last overseas assignment was as Ambassador to Cape Verde and he served abroad as consular officer in Mexico and Chile, and as Chief of the Consular Section in India and Turkey. He was Principal Officer in the Netherlands and Consul General in Egypt as well as Deputy Chief of Mission in Honduras. Amb. Pierce concluded his career as Diplomat in Residence for the Southwest/Rocky Mountains region, based at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.