The Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy initiative tells the stories of the U.S. Department of State’s modern-day heroes among us and heroes from throughout our rich history. The following videos are full-length recordings of Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy events — featuring panel discussions, interviews with honorees, and complete remarks — at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. Learn more about these Heroes Among Us and Heroes From Our Past.
Ambassadors Deborah Malac (ret.), John Hoover, and Alexander Laskaris with Dr. Gary Penner, Ervin Massinga, Kathleen FitzGibbon, Sheila Paskman (ret.), and Dr. Gregory Martin were steadfastness in advancing the Department of State’s mission during the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. As the virus emerged, these U.S. diplomats, then working in the Bureau of Medical Services and posted at U.S. embassies in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, were instrumental in developing a comprehensive strategy to overcome fear and denial, build government capacity, lead interagency teams, advise local and foreign governments, and win public trust.
During the second Liberian civil war, Jenkins Vangehn was the sole Locally Employed (LE) Staff member at U.S. Embassy Monrovia, serving in the political/economic section. Despite accusations of working against the Liberian government and credible threats of harm, Jenkins served courageously to identify American citizens trapped throughout the city and, at great personal risk, physically collected and escorted them to safety at the Embassy. In tandem, Jenkins addressed logistics for the Embassy’s repatriation and evacuation efforts while helping draft and negotiate a unilateral ceasefire and withdrawal statement for Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel forces. This agreement, and Mr. Vangehn’s contributions, saved many lives.
Shannon Farrell, Dominic Randazzo, Roger Rigaud, and Jennifer Savage showed unwavering courage in advancing the Department of State’s mission following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. They displayed relentless bravery and dedication in serving U.S. citizens who were affected and impacted by this tragedy. For weeks, they worked around the clock to assist in the massive consular operations that led to the safe evacuation of 16,200 U.S. citizens. They did extraordinary work in the most challenging circumstances, logistically and emotionally, to ensure that Americans and their families returned safely.
Badye and Hella, a husband-and-wife team with a combined 58 years of service to the U.S. government and U.S. Embassy Tunis, exemplify the heroism, selfless service, and extraordinary contributions of locally engaged staff. When a protest turned violent outside of U.S. Embassy Tunis on September 14, 2012, Badye maintained communications with the Government of Tunisia and risked his own life to protect embassy staff and the American flag. In the aftermath, Hella helped over one hundred embassy personnel and family members get to safety.
William was on his first tour with the Department as a Political and Economic Officer when he volunteered to go above and beyond his responsibilities, repeatedly risking his life, and showing intellectual, and physical courage, in order to bring private U.S. citizens and other Foreign Service officers and embassy staff to safety at the outset of violence and civil war in Brazzaville, Congo during June 1997.
During her distinguished 29-year career, Patti Morton made historic contributions to the Department’s approach in emergency preparedness during the Vietnam War, launched the Department’s first personal defense security trainings, and was one of the early advocates for diversity recruitment and hiring.
Dr. Bunche was a pioneering academic and diplomat who shaped some of the most remarkable moments in 20th century history. He worked at the Department of State as the first African American Desk Officer, before helping to establish the United Nations and joining its staff in 1946. In 1950, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work negotiating a cease-fire between the new state of Israel and Arab nations in the region.
Robert “Bob” Hopkins: “How a Hero of U.S. Diplomacy Supported the Department’s Post-Disaster Response” (11/20/19):
Bob is recognized for bravely leading rescue missions at several foreign consulates in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, as well as the invaluable role he’s played during multiple large-scale crises, where he liaises with local authorities, disaster response, foreign national victims and foreign consulates.
U.S. Diplomats During World War I: “In the Diplomatic Trenches: Department Heroes Alleviate Suffering During World War I” (10/29/19):
Scholars from the Office of the Historian share the history behind the heroic efforts of diplomatic officers and U.S. consuls during World War I, including how they assisted over 100,000 American citizens return home, facilitated U.S. efforts to care for wounded soldiers, looked after Prisoners of War, and oversaw massive relief initiatives to help civilians.
Lizzie is honored as the inaugural Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy selectee for her actions following the embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998 as she helped re-build the communications systems for both embassies, as well as for the professional values she has modeled throughout her career.