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Public Diplomacy Amidst Fake News Explored at Sept. 25 PDAA Lunch

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(Updated 23 September 2017) Reservations are now closed.

Fake News and Disinformation:  we cannot watch the news, surf the Internet, or even carry on a social conversation without hearing the words.  Whether from U.S. political leaders and spokespersons, foreign governments, media figures, violent extremists, “tweeters” “bloggers,” or bots, we face an almost-constant onslaught of fake news, “alternative facts,” or disinformation.  Sifting fact from fiction has become increasingly challenging for citizens needing accurate information in order to make informed decisions.  Many have said that fake news and disinformation are among the gravest threats facing our democracy.

Yet difficult as they are for citizens of the United States and other democracies, fake news and disinformation pose an even greater challenge to diplomacy, and particularly to public diplomacy.   How can today’s public diplomacy professionals—whose job it is to explain the United States and U.S. policy and seek to persuade the citizens and governments of other countries to support those policies—do their jobs in the face of this omnipresent fake news and disinformation?

Susan Stevenson

Susan Stevenson, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

To help us answer this question, PDAA was very fortunate to have three senior State Department officials as speakers at our first luncheon of the 2017-2018 program year.  Susan Stevenson is Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the Department of State.  A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she previously served in Washington as the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Director of the Under Secretary’s Office of Policy, Planning and Resources, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Director of the Foreign Press Centers.  Overseas, Ms. Stevenson was the U.S. Consul General in Chiang Mai, Thailand, following assignments in Beijing, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Bangkok.  She has lectured extensively on government-media relations and holds degrees in multinational management and French from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Henick

Jonathan Henick, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

Jonathan Henick, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, currently serves as Acting Coordinator for International Information Programs. He served previously as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director for Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs where he was responsible for the conduct of U.S. public diplomacy in 13 countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.  He has also served overseas as the Counselor for Public Affairs in Turkey, the Deputy Chief of Mission in Timor-Leste, as well as in other positions in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Portugal, and Uzbekistan.  He has worked as a Public Diplomacy Fellow and Professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and as a visiting Research Fellow and Diplomat-in-Residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He has received the Public Diplomacy Alumni Association Achievement Award, as well as individual Superior Honor Awards from the State Department.  Originally from New York, he speaks Russian, Portuguese, Turkish, and Azerbaijani, and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Hawaii and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.

Adele Ruppe

Adele Ruppe, at PDAA lunch program (A. Kotok)

Adele Ruppe is Chief of Staff in the Global Engagement Center.  Previously, she served as Public Diplomacy Office Director for the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR); Deputy Minister Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy in New Delhi, India; Counselor for Public Affairs at the embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and Senior Special Assistant in the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.  Other assignments include Madrid, Moscow, Mexico City, San Jose (Costa Rica), and EUR’s Front Office.  She has a BS in Computer Science from Duke University, a MBA from the University of Michigan, and a MS from the National Defense University.

This important and stimulating program took place on Monday, September 25, from 12:00 to 2:00, at DACOR Bacon House, 1801 F St., NW.

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