June is Pride Month, which commemorates the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York City in 1969 and celebrates the contributions of LGBTQI+ people. This month, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs will highlight LGBTQI+ Americans serving in our bureau and advancing U.S. foreign policy and national security efforts in the United States and across Europe. This effort is a part of a broader campaign celebrating diversity and inclusion as core American values.
Throughout 2021, EUR will continue to highlight the diversity of Americans serving in the bureau. Please check back here throughout the month as we spotlight our outstanding colleagues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs.
Dick Custin is the Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. He previously served in Baghdad, Ottawa, Washington, Kabul, London – including a year at the UK Foreign Office – Warsaw, and Pretoria. He has been a member of the affinity group glifaa (LGBT+ pride in foreign affairs agencies) since joining State in 1998, and has often served as the organization’s representative at post. Before joining the State Department, Dick worked in television news as an anchor, Emmy-winning reporter, and producer.
Justin Dahse is an Assistant Community Liaison Officer (CLO) at U.S. Embassy Madrid. After serving six years in the U.S. Air Force, he returned to school and earned his bachelor’s degree in biomedical science. He is currently furthering his dream of pursuing a medical career by working on his master’s degree in public health. Justin is also a military spouse who is passionate about green initiatives and volunteering in community activities. As the assistant CLO he provides resources to transitioning families, listens to the needs of others with compassion, and understands the importance of morale building events. Justin has taken a special interest in communicating with the mission to help decipher its needs. In times of celebration or times of crisis, he has created an environment where each individual feels welcome and appreciated. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and traveling with his husband, Rick, and their dog, Patton. He has a fascination with mycology and wild food foraging which he has effectively integrated into his job as the CLO.
Master Sergeant Richard G. Hiort is the Operations Noncommissioned Officer, United States Defense Attaché Office, Embassy of the United States, Madrid, Spain. As Operations Noncommissioned Officer, Sergeant Hiort provides technical, administration, and logistical support as well as coordinates diplomatic clearances for U.S. Air Force aircraft and U.S. Navy vessels with Spanish officials. He currently promotes community engagement within mission Spain as the co-chair for the Diversity and Inclusion Council. Sergeant Hiort entered the Air Force in September 2008. He began his career as an Avionics Technician and has served in various technical, management, and leadership positions including Electronic Warfare section chief. Additionally, Sergeant Hiort has served as an Honor Guard team leader at numerous bases ensuring proper funeral honors and military ceremonies were executed with integrity.
Chad Houghton is career Foreign Service Officer currently serving as the deputy press officer in Warsaw, Poland. Prior to his current assignment, he served as a staff assistant in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Cultural Affairs Officer in Rangoon, Burma. Chad’s first post in the Foreign Service was in Monterrey, Mexico where he met his husband and where they welcomed their dog, Prue, to the family. Before joining the Foreign Service, he worked in the private sector for over 15 years culminating in a job managing the digital and technology division for the world’s largest HR association. Chad is a graduate of the University of Florida.
Jake Nelson is a political officer currently serving as the desk officer for the European Union. In this role, he supports U.S. engagement with the EU and advises senior officials in Washington and at U.S. embassies across Europe on EU institutional affairs and EU foreign policy. Most recently, he was a political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, where he focused on Germany-China relations and covered Germany’s 2019-2020 term on the UN Security Council. Previously, he was vice consul at the U.S. Embassy in Algiers, where he was also the glifaa post representative and was selected as a finalist for the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Award for his work training the embassy community on equal employment law and developing new EEO outreach materials in French and Arabic. He received an MA in European studies from Yale University and a BA in French studies from the College of William & Mary. He is a 2020-2021 Atlantic Council LGBTI in Foreign Affairs Fellow and a recipient of the Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellowship. He speaks French, German, and some Arabic.
Ms. Lee is the Consul General in Thessaloniki, Greece. She is a career member of the Foreign Service with fourteen years’ experience as a foreign policy leader, manager, and negotiator. Previous assignments include the U.S. Embassies in Seoul and Baghdad, the former U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City, and the Israel and Palestinian Affairs Desk at the State Department in Washington DC. She is proficient in Greek, Korean, and Hebrew, and has studied Arabic and Spanish. She is from California and is accompanied by her Golden Retriever, Pumpkin, aka Kolokithoula. She was the President of glifaa (LGBT+ Pride in Foreign Affairs Agencies) from 2018-2019.
Joe Mellott is the Counselor for Public Diplomacy at U.S. Embassy Madrid, currently serving as the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, and has also served in Serbia, Libya, Afghanistan, at NATO in Belgium, Bangladesh, Australia, Albania, and Mongolia. He’s also had several tours in Washington and studied at National Defense University’s Eisenhower School. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he worked for the Civil Service at USIA, and in the private sector, including managing his own internet consulting firm in Australia. Joe has a Master’s degree in National Security and Resource Strategy from National Defense University, an MA in German and European Studies and a BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. He speaks German, Russian, French, Serbian, Albanian, Spanish, and Bengali. Joe has two adult sons and is also an Ironman triathlete and a lifelong motorcycling enthusiast.
Emily Teickenson is the Consular Chief in Bratislava, Slovakia. She joined the Foreign Service in May 2013 and has also served in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Kyiv, Ukraine. She learned to love consular work as an intern at the Embassy in Kyiv during graduate school. Emily is in Slovakia with her wife, who teleworks to her job at USAID in Washington, and their 7 year-old daughter. Prior to joining the Dept. of State, Emily worked as a management consultant, TV producer, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine. She has a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Film Studies from Smith College, and a master’s degree in International Security Policy and Eastern European Studies from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. Emily is originally from Boulder, Colorado and loves alpine skiing, Slavic language linguistics, the Green Bay Packers, and the Washington Nationals.
Patrick R. Wingate is a U.S. diplomat working on consular and refugee/migration issues. Patrick’s husband and their two children proudly serve the American people and represent the LGBTQI+ community every day.