Virginia Foreign Affairs Group to Hear Alberto Fernandez

Amb. Alberto Fernandez

(Courtesy, Amb. Alberto Fernandez)

(7 February 2017). Foreign Affairs Retirees of Northern Virginia, or Farnova, will hear a talk by Ambassador Alberto Fernandez at its meeting on 22 March. The event takes place at the Fort Myer Officers Club in Arlington, Virginia.

Amb. Fernandez, now a vice-president at MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, authored an article in late January on the MEMRI web site titled, “Making The U.S. State Department Great Again: Why A Trump Refit Could Be Good News.” Before retiring from State Department, he served as State Department’s Coordinator for the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications from March 2012 to February 2015. Amb. Fernandez is also the 2006 recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy.

Reservations for lunch are $25.00. The speaker begins at 12:15 pm on Wednesday, 22 March in the club’s Lamplighter Room, but attendees are encouraged to arrive after 11:30 am, since parking can be tight on the base.  Farnova is not yet taking reservations, but Michael Korff can answer questions about the event, at

The Fort Myer Officers Club is located on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington. You can enter the base at the Hatfield Gate, on Washington Boulevard. When entering that gate, stay in the right lane if you have a State Department active or retiree badge, to avoid inspections and their delays. If you do not have a badge, stay in the left lane.

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RFE/RL Future Explored at February Forum

Thomas Kent

Thomas Kent (

(28 January 2017) Thomas Kent, president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, will lead a discussion of the future of these broadcasting services at the February First Monday Forum. Mr. Kent is expected to examine media freedom issues facing RFE and RL, including the safety of journalists, to provide news for its audiences. The event takes place on Monday, 6 February 2017 at American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) in Washington, D.C.

Thomas Kent joined Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in June 2016 after a career of more than 40 years at Associated Press. Most recently, he was AP’s standards editor, responsible for the fairness and accuracy of the news agency’s content in text, photos, video, audio, interactives, and on social networks. He also served with AP as international editor, World Services editor, Moscow bureau chief, Brussels-based correspondent for European institutions and NATO, chief of operations in Tehran during the Iranian revolution, correspondent in Sydney, Australia, and Hartford, Connecticut, and foreign desk editor in New York.

He has written and spoken worldwide on journalistic ethics, including ethical issues for such new journalistic platforms as virtual reality and automated news writing. An advisor to the Ethical Journalism Network, Kent has been a board member of the Organization of News Ombudsmen, a Pulitzer Prize juror in international reporting and an advisor to the Society of Professional Journalists on revisions to its ethics code.

Monday forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 6 February 2017, and begins at 12:00 pm at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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February 13 PDAA Program Examines Diplomacy in Space Exploration

International Space Station crew members

Crew members from U.S., Russia, and Japan aboard the International Space Station, December 2015. (

(14 January 2017) From John Glenn to Elon Musk, Americans who dare to go to space have inspired Americans from the first days of the space program.   Through State, the U.S. has been a leader at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) and other international fora on space and earth sciences.

PDAA’s program on Monday, February 13 explored diplomacy’s role in the incredible accomplishments of last 50 years in space exploration and stewardship of our planet through the earth sciences.  Participants heard from three top experts in the field of space diplomacy about how space activities have bolstered diplomacy and how diplomacy has bolstered the cooperation.

The public’s interest in space and space exploration rarely flags, bolstered by the inspiring work of NASA and its formidable public affairs operations.  In cooperation with USAID, NASA’s satellite data has been used to track elephant populations in Botswana and floods in Bangladesh.  Kent Bress is the director of the Aeronautics and Cross Agency Support Division in the Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.

Kent Bress

Kent Bress, 13 February 2017 (A. Kotok)

In his current position he oversees NASA’s collaboration with Europe and Canada, and supervises the negotiation of international agreements in the areas of aeronautics, space technology, education and public outreach.  From 1997 until 1999 he was NASA’s representative in Moscow, Russia.

The Office of Space and Advanced Technology (OES/SAT) ensures that U.S. space policies and multilateral science activities support U.S. foreign policy objectives and enhance space and technological competitiveness.  The United States, its allies and its adversaries around the world have established the goal of peaceful uses of outer space, and cooperate intensively to build and maintain the International Space Station.

Ken Hodgkins

Ken Hodgkins, 13 February 2017 (A. Kotok)

The Outer Space Treaty, signed by 105 countries, establishes the mechanics for this cooperation.   Ken Hodgkins is the Director for the Office of Space and Advanced Technology in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science.  Mr. Hodgkins serves as the U.S. representative to COPUOS. He has been the State representative for major Presidential policy reviews on remote sensing, the Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, orbital debris, and the use of space nuclear power sources.

Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.”   As a non-profit foundation, the Foundation amplifies these efforts through research, outreach and support of educational and cultural programs throughout the U.S.

Bill Parker

Bill Parker, 13 February 2017 (A. Kotok)

Bill Parker, a retired FSO after 31 years, with multiple postings for USIA and State, is a Special Advisor for International Affairs to the Space Foundation.  He has trained Foreign Affairs Officers at FSI and the National Security Space Institute at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Parker tells about his work with the Space Foundation in a recent essay on

The PDAA program took place place Monday, February 13, 2017 at the DACOR-Bacon House, 1801 F St NW, Washington, DC.

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New Book on Nontraditional PD Launched at January Forum

Book cover art

(Public Diplomacy Council)

(24 December 2016) The next Monday lunch forum program will examine Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future, a new book published by Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 9 January 2017 at American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) in Washington, D.C.

According to its publisher, the book showcases key innovations and lessons in U.S. diplomacy since World War I. It delivers to practitioners, analysts, students, and others compelling engagement strategies and primary research for shaping and communicating policy among increasingly diverse, collaborative, and powerful publics. Eleven authors representing a variety of public diplomacy specialties, geographies, and sectors offer timely insights for new and seasoned readers of global relations.

A panel of public diplomacy practitioners and observers will discuss the book’s historical and forward-leaning insights for the new and continuing actors in U.S. diplomacy’s expanding public dimension:

Dr. Rob Albro, Vice President of Public Diplomacy Council, and contributing author to Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future

Ambassador Cynthia Efird, retired Foreign Service Officer, former Ambassador to the Republic of Angola, and current president of PDAA – an association of public diplomacy professionals

Dr. Debbie Trent, public diplomacy and international development analyst, and editor of Nontraditional U.S. Public Diplomacy: Past, Present, and Future

Dan Whitman, Moderator and assistant professor of foreign policy at the Washington Semester Program, with the School of Professional and Extended Studies at American University

Monday forums are a joint project of the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and Public Diplomacy Council. The event takes place on Monday, 9 January 2017, and begins at 12:00 pm at AFSA headquarters, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC (Foggy Bottom metro). Sandwiches and refreshments will be served.

The event is free, but advance registrations by e-mail are required:

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ADST Seeking to Hire a Writer/Researcher for Special Project


(17 December 2016) The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training is seeking to hire a writer to create an e-book in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Foreign Service Institute.  The project would begin upon hiring and must be completed and approved by March 3, 2017.

FSI will be commemorating the 70th anniversary of its founding throughout 2017. While almost everyone at the State Department has had some experience with FSI, many do not know the rich history that lies behind Arlington Hall (currently the National Foreign Affairs Training Center) or the many bureaucratic and political struggles its supporters overcame to create it.

To help address this, ADST wants to hire a writer to research its extensive oral history collection to find excerpts from past FSI directors and FSOs who have been students there to get their impressions of the events that helped shape FSI over the decades. Possible subjects could include FSI during the McCarthy era, the modernization of the language program and the creation of the Arlington campus, as well as anecdotes, both insightful and amusing, about studying at FSI.

The writer would work closely with the Stephen Low Library to research the history of Arlington Hall and its role in World War II, the Korean War, and its transfer to the Department in the 1980s. All of this information would be put in an e-book, to cover both the history of Arlington Hall and of FSI, which would be made available free of charge to all State Department and FSI employees.

The writer would receive a small stipend, to be paid upon the successful completion of the project.

If you would like to apply for this position, please contact Judith Baroody at, providing a cover letter, C.V., and writing sample. Deadline for applying is December 31, 2016.

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DACOR-Bacon House Ramp Campaign

DACOR-Bacon House

(DACOR-Bacon House)

(17 December 2016)

Dear Fellow Members of PDAA:

All the greetings of this season! I hope that you are your families are celebrating fully its joys and hope for the future.

I hope you will consider one additional task at this busy time.  Those of you who attended the great luncheon program on November 14th — more on that subject in the next newsletter — will remember that I announced that DACOR has decided to embark on a necessary project that will benefit members of PDAA and other foreign affairs organizations that meet in the historic DACOR-Bacon House.

They have committed to construct a wheelchair ramp along F Street that will ensure that our colleagues with permanent or temporary disabilities can enjoy and take advantage of the facilities as much as the rest of our members. This ramp will be both ADA-compliant and in keeping with the historic nature of the House, approved by the various DC boards in charge of historic preservation and fine arts. DACOR has requested sister organizations to contribute to the cost of this project which, because of the historic and ADA considerations, is estimated at $130,000.

The PDAA Board has decided to encourage individual members to contribute to this worthy project. I hope that you will consider doing so in order that PDAA’s name can be listed on the plaque that will mounted next to the ramp. You can donate online at If you write a check, please make it out to the “DACOR Bacon House Foundation,”  at 1801 F St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, so that you get tax credit for this contribution to a 501 (c) 3 organization. On the memo line of your check, please write: “Ramp: PDAA,” so that PDAA gets credit as well. We are grateful for the comfortable venue for our luncheon meetings.  Making the facility accessible will certainly facilitate our programs.

Cynthia Efird
President PDAA

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