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Diplomacy in Action

Swearing-In Ceremony: Opening Our Doors To Sub-National Leaders

Reta Jo Lewis
Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs 
Washington, DC
May 7, 2010


Thank you so much Secretary Clinton. I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude to my parents, my aunt Reverend Simmons, and my sisters, Le’Ontyne, Reverend Sharma, Wanda, my brother Charlie and my nephew Rudolph for their love and support.

Counselor Mills, thank you for your gracious introduction. Cheryl, it is such a pleasure to be working with a long-time friend whose leadership I respect and admire greatly.

I would also like to thank the elected officials who are present, my friends who are here from various stages of my life, and for those who have traveled from around the country, all of whom have joined me for this special occasion. As I look around the room, I am so humbled to have known all of you throughout my career.

Working for Secretary Clinton is such a tremendous experience. The first time that I met the Secretary, she was then the First Lady of Arkansas. We were in Detroit, where she was conducting a Motown Revue campaign event. What really struck me about her was her interest and concern for me as an individual, and how she shared her experiences with me as a woman in the law. And it is that ability to empathize and her genuine concern for people that make her a model public servant who has inspired me and so many of us here.

And now as Secretary of State, she is an inspiration to so many around the world; besides which, she is the most recognized woman on the planet. The United States and the world are now lucky to have her talent, voice, and dedication as our Secretary of State.

I am honored to be able to work with her, to assist her in realizing her vision for 21st Century Statecraft in this new Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs. As Secretary Clinton has made clear, foreign policy and diplomacy go beyond nation to nation engagement. The time has come to engage our sub-nationals and inter-domestic stakeholders. That’s why the Secretary created the Office of Global Intergovernmental Affairs.

Specifically, so that we can:
  • Assist U.S. state and local elected officials with their global needs and facilitate their engagement with their sub-national counterparts;
  • Assist the regional bureaus’ work, specifically in Asia, Africa and the Western Hemisphere, on their engagement with sub-national and U.S. state and local leaders;
  • Amplify and develop targeted capacity building programs utilizing the technical expertise of our U.S. state and local officials; and
  • Support diplomacy, and foster peer-to-peer opportunities for sub-national dialogue.

Secretary Clinton understands the thrust for building comprehensive international relationships, which includes engagement on the sub-national level, because it is vital for the U.S. to meet our foreign policy objectives. Toward that end, in March I led the U.S. delegation of state and local officials to Martinique, where we met with 30 Haitian Mayors and elected officials from 10 Donor countries to put forth a plan to collaborate on the long-term reconstruction of Haiti. The Honorable Mayor Andre Pierre of North Miami, who was a member of the U.S. delegation, is here today, and I am honored by his presence.

S/SRGIA has already identified a core group of Governors, Mayors, local elected officials, and organizations who are active globally and are eager to assist in fulfilling the Secretary’s priorities regarding food security, accountable governance, climate change and sustainable development. As we look forward, there is a great deal of work to do. However, we believe that building partnerships with sub-national leaders creates a multiplier effect, and there is no telling of the heights we can reach together. As we forge long-lasting relationships around our common goals, we need sub-national leaders to help us successfully face the complex challenges of the 21st Century.

Thank you again, Secretary Clinton, for this unique opportunity and thanks to all of you for your continued guidance and support.

In closing, I would like to thank all of you for coming to witness the beginning of my service as the Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs. I would like to wish my Mom, Secretary Clinton, and everyone in the room a Happy Mother’s Day.

God Bless.

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