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Diplomacy in Action

Swearing-In Ceremony for Special Representative for Global Partnerships Kris Balderston

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ben Franklin Room
Washington, DC
February 17, 2011


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, this is a great delight to see so many familiar faces and to welcome all of you here to the State Department as we honor someone who has been a colleague and a friend – actually a real buddy – to all of us. (Laughter.) Now, you know his name, even if he sometimes forgets yours. (Laughter.) I could not be happier to have Kris as our new Special Representative for Global Partnerships. There isn’t anyone I could imagine who is already as connected all over as Kris is.

And I’m delighted that Patti and his two beautiful daughters, and his brother Bruce, his sister Ann, Patti’s parents, Pat and Frank, the entire clan from Little Falls and beyond is here. (Laughter.) And I think all of us feel as though we are members of the family, because, as Kris has often told his friends, “love ya like family” – (laughter) – and it does feel like a family reunion here.

Kris and I have been through a lot together, and many of you have been along for the ride with us. From the White House to the Senate to the campaign trail and now to the State Department, I’ve always had absolute confidence in relying on Kris’s judgment, his talent, and just his good, old-fashioned common sense. And at every step of the way, he has helped to put together and support a great team, a team of people that really came together as part of an overall effort to really make a difference in the lives of those we served.

He is uniquely qualified to be our Special Representative for Global Partnerships. And I’m going to put it in terms that will resonate with Kris: I’m going to talk about the Yankees. (Laughter.) Now, I know that there was some doubt about this, but I was a Yankees fan. And when I was seven years old I dressed up like Mickey Mantle for Halloween. In fact, I have the picture to show you and to prove it.

And Kris is kind of like my Mickey Mantle, the guy I can always count on to get a hit. When I was first elected to the Senate, it was very challenging to figure out how to show up in the Senate and get work done for the people we represented in New York. And Kris came up with this idea of “the power to convene,” how do we form partnerships that would yield results that would really matter to people. And then people started seeing Kris in action, because when you’re a new senator you don’t have an office. You’re stuck in a basement room, and at that time the majority, not of my party, made sure we had like the smallest, darkest, basement room. So Kris started holding court in the cafeteria. And pretty soon there was this steady stream of people from across New York coming in to see Kris in the cafeteria. And then I started hearing him referred to as the Mayor of Upstate, because he seemed to know everybody and he was open for business 24/7. (Laughter.) And time after time, he was hitting it out of the park, whether it was connecting up small businesses to eBay or upstate farmers with downstate restaurants.

And I just was so excited because I loved it every bit as much as he did. So we’d go off tromping around through apple orchards and through small family-run factories, and we’d come out with ten different ideas and get to work. And it was one of the most gratifying parts of our work together, and we really helped people see what they could do for themselves, which was key to the satisfaction it gave to all of us. We just lost a wonderful man on his 95th year who had started a small restaurant in Troy, New York in what used to be called Little Italy, but had fallen on hard times. And so Kris did a scouting trip up to Troy, and then pretty soon we were eating some of the best pizza you’ve ever tasted – (laughter) – and we were looking to help brand this community.

And it was absolutely obvious to me when I moved to the State Department, and the playing field got a little bigger, that we needed to keep the hits coming. And so once again I asked Kris to join me on this adventure. So now we’re working on clean cookstoves for the developing world --


SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Laughter.) We’re connecting up social entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley with diplomats from right here in Foggy Bottom. We inherited a disaster when the first thing out of the mouth of the Chinese foreign minister was, I don’t understand why the United States and Andorra are the only two countries in the world not participating at the Shanghai Expo. I had never heard of the Shanghai Expo at that point. (Laughter.) So we got to work on that and actually got it built.

And that’s why – secondly, Chris is kind of the ultimate closer, too. So pick your favorite Yankee closer – Mariano Rivera, wouldn’t be bad. (Laughter.) And whether it’s persuading businesses to invest in New York’s North Country or invest in America’s Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, Kris knows how to seal the deal. He’s the guy that you want in the room, who will look at somebody and say “you know this is the right thing to do,” and then he gets the job done.

And finally, and most importantly, Kris is my Derek Jeter. (Laughter.) I’ve always wanted my very own Derek Jeter. (Laughter.) Oh, well. (Laughter.) I couldn’t get the real Derek so – Captain Intangibles. He makes everyone around him play better, work harder, think bigger. And that’s why all of us are here, because he has shown loyalty and support to so many of us in this room, and we wanted to be here to support you, Kris, and to wish you well. I know Washington is filled with people who’ve gotten ahead by being meaner and tougher. But it’s far rarer to find someone like Kris, who has succeeded because people really like him and they like being around him and they take his phone calls because they – (applause) – like to hear from him. (Applause.)

So I don't want to put too much pressure on you, but this is the perfect time to step up to the plate as our special representative, because we have scarce resources, tough, tough budget times. We have to tap into the talent and the energy and the expertise of the private sector and academia and the NGO and diaspora communities to tackle the challenges that face the United States and the world, and therefore, we especially need Kris’s real skill to bring people together.

So you can bet he’ll be calling every single one of you asking for your help. And so get ready. It’s no time to stay out of the stadium or hang back in the dugout. This is really going on and on and on. (Laughter.) Because solving the world’s problems is a team sport. And with Kris, everyone gets to play and everybody is expected to suit up.

So, if you’re ready, Kris, I’m ready to formally swear you in.

(The Oath of Office was administered.)

PRN: 2011/234

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