Thank you, Madame Secretary. It is an honor to be here with you, today, and I am grateful for the confidence that you and President Obama have placed in me.
Let me also echo your appreciation for Ann Stock, and for Ambassador Kathleen Stephens, for stepping forward so readily and effectively as Acting Under Secretaries. And thank you to all my predecessors in this job for laying a strong foundation upon which I can build. I am fortunate to be joining a strong team with Ann, Mike Hammer, Dana Smith, Dawn McCall, Nick Giacobbe, and the entire R family.
My mind today is on family. I thank my siblings—Nancy, Marshall, Michael, and their families. Our parents would be proud of all of us and I wish they could see this day.
My deepest thanks are reserved for the three men who make my world go round—my husband, Gary Friend, and my sons, Jordan, and Yale. You bring music into my life – literally and figuratively. Together (with Rocky, of course,) our home is a place of joy. That is something to celebrate.
There are friends here today who are like family—who go back with me 20 years, some 25 years, and yes a few –and you know who you are--go back to high school—I won’t say how many years ago that was. My friends have been pillars of support during these challenging months as I awaited word on confirmation. Understandably, people kept asking –are you confirmed yet? Have you started? Thanks to Gary we instituted a "Don’t Ask We’ll Tell You" policy.
As I look around the room, I see so many people who have mentored me and inspired me. Regardless of your various religions, you are all my rabbis in addition to the real ones who are here today. But in particular, I single out:
That first year, he let me watch the evening news with him each night to explain the business to me. That’s mentoring.
And you helped me not only work to build the USIP facility from the ground up – but to also build an architecture of conflict management around the world.
What connects all these stories today are relationships. Secretary Clinton understands the importance of connecting to people. She has made people-to-people diplomacy central to our foreign policy. And I am reminded of something Ashley Garrigus my Special Assistant told me recently, after she came back from an official trip to Algeria, the Middle East, and Qatar.
Ashley’s in her twenties, and when she met young people, they didn’t pepper her with tough questions about foreign policy. What they wanted to know was--What do you Americans do on weekends? Do you have a pet? Where did you get those cool shoes? Which college campuses in the U.S. are the most fun?
Policy is about people. Without a deeper understanding of foreign publics, our policies are just flying blind. We can’t depend only on conversations with political leaders. We have to connect with people, and let them know we are listening, we care, and we are working to support them.
We have to be texting, blogging, tweeting, and connecting face-to-face--to empower young people, women and girls, and minorities, engaging to change the minds of extremists who spread misinformation and hatred online, reaching out to make sure our narrative is as robust as the character of our nation. If we enlist public diplomacy effectively, we can enlist the problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow.
I want to close by thanking the people of the public diplomacy field—those engaged in extending America’s narrative overseas. Some are in embassies, missions, consulates, bases. Others work in the education and exchange field.
Wherever you are—virtually, or physically, you are contributing to national security and you have this country’s support and encouragement.
Madame Secretary, once again, thank you, for giving me this opportunity – and thank you, everyone, for being here today.