Back Issues of PDAA Today

Back issues of PDAA Today, PDAA’s quarterly print newsletter are now online and available for download.

Alan Carter April 16, 1923 – January 25, 2019

Alan Carter passed away peacefully on January 25, 2019, at Bentley Commons in Keene, NH. He was born in Rochester, NY, in 1923.

A retired Career Minister in the former United States Information Agency, Carter, held several senior positions and served tours of duty in Pakistan, India, Japan, and Vietnam. He was one of the last evacuees from the US Embassy in Saigon in 1975.

Alan Carter had three distinct careers, all involving communications. The first was in radio broadcasting, including positions as Program Director at WNYC and producer/director at NBC, both in New York City. The second was at the United States Information Agency. Following his retirement from government, he served in senior positions at World Learning in Brattleboro, Vermont.

He was married to Marjorie Lee Carter of Oklahoma , who predeceased him, and who, along with their daughter Pamela Carter, accompanied him on his overseas tours. The exception was what proved to be a short tour of duty in Vietnam, which ended with the evacuation by the US government of all it’s personnel in that country.

For his work in USIA, he received the Edward R Murrow Award for Excellence in Public Diplomacy. He also received the Presidential Certificate of Appreciation from President Gerald Ford for his work with the Interagency Task Force for Indochina refugees, helping in their resettlement in the U.S.

When he moved to Brattleboro, he reunited with Ellsworth Bunker and John Kenneth Galbraith, two U.S. Ambassadors with whom he served in India as Press Attaché. Alan Carter was a resident of Vermont for over 30 years, the longest he lived in any one place.

He leaves his daughter Pamela Carter and relatives in Hartford, Connecticut, Rochester, NY, Texas, and California.

Ker-Phaneuf Funeral Home and Crematorium is assisting the family with arrangements. To view an online memorial, leave a message of condolence, or for more information please go to

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April 20 Virtual Program – Health Public Diplomacy and COVID-19

PDAA invites you to a virtual meeting Monday, April 20, 2020, on “Health Public Diplomacy and COVID-19.” The program will take place at noon and replaces our original program scheduled to take place at DACOR-Bacon House.

Kia Henry

Michael Zeltakalns

The speakers are Kia Henry, a health public diplomacy officer with the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), and Michael Zeltakalns, director of crisis response at the State Department’s Global Public Affairs bureau.

Henry joined the State Department in 2005 as a program coordinator. Since then, she has worked as a management analyst and as a public diplomacy officer. She helped coordinate responses to earlier outbreaks including Zika and Ebola. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, Henry holds an M.A. from Webster University.

Zeltakalns joined the Department in 2013 after nearly a decade as a communications specialist with the U.S. Navy. Since joining DOS, he has worked in press and public affairs at the Bureau of Global Public Affairs (GPA) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). He is a graduate of Averett University and holds an M.A. from George Washington University.

The program will take place via Zoom. To receive log-on details, register your interest in the event at We hope to post a recording of the program on PDAA’s Vimeo site.

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ERNEST EUGENE “GENE” PELL – Journalist and Broadcast Executive (1937 – 2020)

Ernest Eugene “Gene” Pell, 83, died quietly on April 7, 2020, at his home near Syria, VA, after a valiant 3-year battle with cancer. He is survived by his loving wife, Susan Jane (Roehm) Pell of Syria; two daughters from a previous marriage: Anne Frances Pell of Morsasco, Italy, and Jennifer Susan Pell of Makawno, HI; a grandson Sasha Pell of Makawno, HI; a stepson Maj. Philipp Edouard Rigaut who lives in Prince William Co., VA, with his wife Amanda and five children; a sister Carol Goodman Taylor of Lexington, KY; a sister Sandria Lynn Cox of Woodbridge, VA; a brother Clark Edward Pell of West Coxsackie, NY; and several nieces and nephews. Gene was preceded in death by his parents and his stepson, Pierre-Louis Rigaut.

Gene was born March 15, 1937, in Paducah, KY, the oldest of four children of Ernest Joseph and Edna Marie (Stewart) Pell. His father was an early pioneer in radio and television broadcasting, who managed technical operations for several stations in Kentucky and later built and ran a television network in Vietnam. His father’s work no doubt contributed to Gene’s interest in broadcasting, but an even greater impetus was the wonderful, commanding baritone voice he developed at age 13. That remarkable voice, coupled with exceptional intelligence and drive, led to a career of more than 50 years in broadcast journalism.

He often joked that he began his broadcasting career covering “rasslin” matches while he was still in high school, then worked at the campus radio station while attending Harvard University. He graduated from Harvard in 1959 with a BA in English, then served as an officer in the Navy for three years where, among other assignments, he was the Program Director for the Armed Forces Radio Service in New York City. He returned to college after the Navy and earned a MS in Journalism from Boston University.

Gene began his career in television news in 1963 as an investigative reporter with WBI-TV in Boston, then became an anchor for Boston stations WBZ and WCVB. In 1969 he joined the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, first as the National Political Correspondent in Washington and then as Chief of the Westinghouse Foreign News Service in London. In 1974, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and in 1977, a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Russian Research Center. He joined NBC News in 1978 and served as the NBC News Correspondent in Moscow 1978-1980 and as the Pentagon Correspondent 1980-1982. From 1963 through 1982, Gene covered every major news story and interviewed countless American and international newsmakers. He reported on the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy, Watergate, five Presidential campaigns, the Iran Hostage Crisis, and countless other events across the U.S. and around the world.

Another journalist who worked with him during that period recently said, “Gene lived his professional life as a serious and devoted advocate of reporting the truth, using the medium of broadcasting – radio and TV. Like many of us, he was proud and a bit arrogant. But more importantly, he was riveting and honest. I’m not certain where his inspiration came from, but the results were impressive: great curiosity, a commitment to support and nurture quality broadcast journalism, and an abiding dedication to servicing the audiences.”

Gene began his government career in 1982 when he was recruited by the Reagan Administration to help modernize the technology and programming at the Voice of America (VOA). He initially served as the Director of News and Current Affairs, then as the Deputy Director for all VOA Programming, then in June of 1985, he was appointed by President Reagan as the Director of VOA. His contributions to the modernization were so successful that he was recruited by the Board for International Broadcasting to become the President/CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., in Munich, Germany. He became President/CEO in October, 1985, and led that organization for eight years through one of the most remarkable periods in modern history. He spent much of 1985-1989 transforming the management, technology, and programming at RFE/RL, which significantly improved the organization’s capability and credibility when the USSR began to collapse. Under Gene’s leadership, RFE/RL was at the heart of the peaceful revolutions that occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1992, broadcasting accurate news and credible information in 21 languages, 7 days a week. He was frequently on the air during that period speaking to audiences in both English and Russian. Many Eastern European and Russian leaders, including Czech President Vaclav Havel and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, later testified to the importance of RFE/RL broadcasts in helping to end the Cold War. Polish leader Lech Walesa told an audience in 1989 that the role played by RFE/RL in Poland’s struggle for freedom “cannot even be described. Would there be an earth without the sun?” In 1991, RFE/RL was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the critical part it played in the peaceful revolutions across the Soviet bloc.

Gene won a wide array of journalism awards through the years, but he was most proud of the contributions he made to VOA and RFE/RL that helped to end the Cold War.

Gene retired from RFE/RL in June of 1993 and returned to broadcasting, which was his first love. He joined Radio America where he wrote and hosted a weekly radio program and produced and narrated a series of television programs about Congressional Medal of Honor winners. He also acted as master of ceremonies for several years at the annual WWII Veterans Association meeting in Washington.

In 1998, Gene and Susan moved from Washington, D.C., to a wonderful home on a mountain near the town of Syria in Madison Co., VA . They immediately fell in love with Madison County and the many good friends they made there. They became active members of the community and worked on a series of projects with the Chamber of Commerce, MESA, Madison Troop Support, and others. Gene was especially proud of the annual oratory competition he endowed and judged for Madison High School students. He hoped that some of those students might follow in his path and build careers in broadcast journalism.

After cremation, Gene’s ashes will be interred in the Criglersville Shiloh Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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Statement on response to COVID-19

PDAA logo

Given the need for diligence in the face of the COVID-19 threat, and in consultation with our USC partner, we are postponing our April 6 First Monday Forum. During this time, when it is vital to observe social distancing guidelines, we are exploring the feasibility of online events and will continue to provide you with Weekly Updates and News and Notes. We encourage everyone to engage virtually, to the extent you can, and invite you to spend some time exploring, our joint website.

Sherry Mueller, President, PDC
Joel Fischman, President, PDAA

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Martha Graham and the Legacy of Dance Diplomacy

Victoria Phillips’s book on Martha Graham was the subject of a discussion at the National Museum of American Diplomacy on March 5, 2020

The National Museum of American Diplomacy at the State Department arranged a “Diplomacy After Hours” discussion on March 5, 2020, that focused on a new book by Victoria Phillips, Martha Graham’s Cold War: The Dance of American Diplomacy. The event was hosted by Dr. Jane Carpenter-Rock, the Museum’s deputy director and the speaker at the May First Monday program on the projected presentation of Public Diplomacy at the museum. The respondents included PDAA member Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal, who spoke about her encounter while CAO in Israel with Martha Graham.

According to its author, Martha Graham’s Cold War is the first book to frame the story of Martha Graham and her particular brand of dance modernism as pro-Western Cold War propaganda used by the United States government to promote American democracy.

“In her choreography, Graham recast the stories of the Western canon through female protagonists whom she captured as timeless, seemingly beyond current political and cultural values of the Free World. Centering on powerful yet not demonstrably American female characters, the stories Graham danced seduced and captured the imaginations of elite audiences without seeming to force a determinedly American agenda,” according to Phillips.

Recalling a Martha Graham Visit to Israel: Its Foreign Policy Objective Achieved

by Sally Grooms Cowal

Ambassador Sally Grooms Cowal

The Martha Graham Dance Company came to Israel as part of a tour to Egypt, Israel and Jordan shortly after the signing of the Peace Agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979. The Agreement was brokered by President Jimmy Carter at Camp David. That was a major foreign policy accomplishment for the United States and remains, 40 years later, the only peace agreement achieved between Israel and an Arab nation. The foreign policy objective of the Martha Graham tour was part of a larger plan of cultural normalization, undertaken by the US, to create bridges of knowledge and understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I was the CAO in Israel at the time.

The foreign policy objective of the tour of the Graham Company was to illustrate that it was possible for performing arts groups to perform in Israel and in Arab countries on the same visit. Israel had been isolated by the Arab countries since its establishment. If you had an Israeli entry stamp in your passport, for example, no Arab country would permit entrance. There was no direct travel between Israel and any country in the region. To go from Tel Aviv to Cairo, for example, a flight of one hour, required an all-day trip. You went from Tel Aviv to Athens, had a several-hour layover in Athens, and then a flight from Athens to Cairo. It took about nine or 10 hours in total.

So we wanted to end that isolation and to show that Israel was in fact part of the region and should not be isolated and that there were decided advantages to be gained for all the countries if travel and tourism and business and cultural exchange between them became normal and routine. So, the plan was for the company to come to Israel directly from Egypt, showing that it was possible and normal to do so. It actually didn’t work out that way because we couldn’t get a commercial charter or scheduled airline to fly them from Egypt to Israel, so we had to call on the US Air Force to come to our rescue. Now, daily commercial flights exist from Tel Aviv to Cairo, to Amman, and perhaps to other Middle Eastern cities as well.

Other cultural normalization activities that the US Government pursued simultaneously included an expanded International Visitor Program, especially for travel and learning experiences that included both Israelis and Arabs in the same group of grantees. A regional IV program of, for example, water engineers from several European countries, would also include engineers from Israel and perhaps Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, so that they could meet as professionals with similar backgrounds on neutral grounds (the US), learning and experiencing together and beginning to break down the mutual fear, stigma, myths, and prejudices that had existed for generations.
Audiences in Israel were thrilled with the Martha Graham performances and for the tour being part of a larger Middle Eastern context. We hosted other US performing arts groups later, like the La Mama Theatre Company from NY and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra–all of which performed in Israel and then in other places in the Middle East.

But Martha was the first. She had a history in Israel, she had helped to start the Batsheva Dance Company, she and her company had performed there several times, so Israelis were familiar with her work and thrilled that her company was performing in Amman and Cairo as well as in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. From the point of view of the American Embassy, our foreign policy objective of gaining support for what we hoped would be a new day in the region, with peace treaties between Israel and many other Arab countries, was achieved.

Ambassador Cowal retired from the Foreign Service in 1995 after serving as Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago. She was a Career Minister and had also been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean. Ambassador Cowal’s assignments included Cultural Attaché at United States Embassy, Tel Aviv, 1978-1982, and Minister-Counselor for Public Affairs in Mexico. After retiring from the Foreign Service, she became the deputy director of the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) where she was responsible for heightening world awareness to the emerging HIV/AIDS crisis. From 1999 to 2001, Ambassador Cowal was the President of Youth For Understanding, and from 2001 to 02, she was President of the Cuba Policy Foundation. She curently serves as the American Cancer Society’s Senior Vice President for Global Health. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Diplomacy Center Foundation supporting the National Museum of American Diplomacy. Her most recent article for PDAA, Life After the Foreign Service, is available here.

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Today’s Washington Post carries the sad news of the passing of one of our country’s foremost cultural diplomats: Yale Richmond.

Yale’s geographic area specialization was Russia and Central Europe. When he began working in the region, Russia was still the Soviet Union and the US referred to anything east of the Soviet Union as Eastern Europe. This deeply offended the Poles, for example, who pointed out that Warsaw was to be found some to 1000 miles west of Moscow,  just about mid-way between Moscow and Paris. The Poles would point out that they were central Europeans whose culture came from the west not from the influences of the barbarism found along their eastern border.

Yale quickly recognized that the Russian people and people of other ethnic origins living in the Soviet Union, and across central Europe, harbored no natural anti-American instincts and that they were highly receptive to opportunities that might allow them to learn English and perhaps even to visit or to study in our country. And Yale saw that the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and of at least some Central European countries (Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia) were willing, if not anxious, to work on expanding educational and cultural relations with our country.

So both on assignments in the field in Moscow and Warsaw and while serving in Washington supervising educational and cultural operations in this region, he began to gather U.S. Government resources for such efforts.

Yale worked tirelessly to educate younger staff, such as myself, on the diplomacy needed for such activities: language ability and a thorough knowledge of the history of these countries. We were exhausted after his intense visits to us in the field. He was indefatigable.

But perhaps the highest tribute that has been paid to Yale has come about most recently and in an very perverse manner: while Soviet leadership was anxious to support educational and cultural exchanges because it believed that this demonstrated that it considered such activity part of how civilized nations carried on relations with one another, the Putin regime has now shut down all such activities, declaring that young people who participate in such programs are brainwashed while they are in the U.S. and return enemies of Russia. The Soviets had the self-confidence to believe that their system could compete successfully with the outside world. Putin has no such confidence.

Yale was right. He supported language teaching and other efforts to expand academic and cultural contacts because he understood how deeply corrosive they were to totalitarian regimes. And now the Putin regime certainly recognizes this.

Perhaps no other person contributed more over a lifetime to helping Americans to understand the world beyond our borders and those beyond our borders to understand us.

We mourn the passing of our one of our country’s foremost cultural diplomats. But he leaves a superb road map for how we will need to rebuild our international relations in the future.

Ambassador Robert R. Gosende

Writer and Foreign Service Officer Yale Wolf Richmond, 96, a retired Foreign Service Officer who wrote books on intercultural communication, died of natural causes on March 22 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He lived in the Washington area since 1963.

Mr. Richmond served in Germany, Laos, Poland, Austria, and the Soviet Union. For his service in Laos, he received the U.S. Information Agency’s Meritorious Service Award. At retirement in 1980, he was a Deputy Assistant Director (Europe) of the U.S. Information Agency. After retirement, he was a Staff Consultant to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Congress, and a Senior Program Officer at the National Endowment for Democracy.

A specialist in educational and cultural exchanges with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, he established the Fulbright program in Poland in 1959 and negotiated fourteen intergovernmental agreements with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe on exchanges in education, culture, science, and technology. For his work in Poland, he was awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

After a 30-year career as a cultural officer helping people of other countries to understand America and its people, Mr. Richmond in his retirement wrote 11 books to help Americans going abroad to work or study to better understand the culture and people of other countries. He was the author of From Nyet to Da: Understanding the New Russia; From Da to Yes: Understanding the East Europeans; U.S.-Soviet Cultural Exchanges: Who Wins?; Cultural Exchange and the Cold War: Raising the Iron Curtain, a study of how exchanges helped to end the Cold War; Practicing Public Diplomacy: A Cold War Odyssey; and with his wife Phyllis Gestrin, Into Africa: A Guide to Sub-Saharan Culture and Diversity. Several of his books have been published in Chinese and Korean language editions, and his Understanding the Russians has been published in four editions and sold more than 35,000 copies.

Born in Boston, he was graduated from Boston College in 1943 at age 19, served in the army 1943-46, and received degrees in electrical engineering from Syracuse University (1947) and in history from Columbia University (1957). He was a member of the American Foreign Service Association, the Public Diplomacy Association of America, and the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies ASEEES His marriage to Pamela Cheatham Richmond ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Phyllis Gestrin, of Chevy Chase, MD; one child, Hania, of Naperville, IL, and one grandchild, Pierre David Hanlet. Memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial service will be held at a later date.

Published in The Washington Post on Mar. 29, 2020


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