June 21, 2018
The US-China Education Trust (USCET) welcomed more than 100 supporters and guests to its Women and the Asian Century: Promoting Diversity in Diplomacy program in mid-June, the second in USCET’s series of 20th anniversary celebrations.
The occasion also marked 25 years since USCET Founding President Julia Chang Bloch served as the first Asian American Ambassador of the United States and it recognized the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowships, a flagship recruitment program dedicated to increasing Foreign Service diversity, now in its 26th year. Ambassador Pickering, a USCET Advisory Council member and whom the award is named after spoke highly of the fellowship program and the important role it plays in increasing diversity in the service since it was established in 1992.
The special program, which also included a panel discussion, dinner reception, and an illustrious array of speakers highlighted the importance of diversity, particularly in relation to the status of women in diplomacy.
Julie Furuta-Toy, US Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea opened the afternoon portion of the forum describing her personal story and journey as a comparative literature student unaware of Foreign Service job opportunities to becoming a US ambassador in 2015.
Ambassador Furuta-Toy noted during her remarks that it was never her intention of becoming an ambassador when joining the Foreign Service in 1986. “I was able to do this because I was really fortunate to have the support and mentorship needed to take the risks necessary to become an ambassador,” she said.
Both Kirsti Kauppi, Ambassador of Finland to the United States and Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State shared their experiences and the challenges they've faced in remarks given at the dinner reception.
As a representative of a foreign government, Ambassador Kauppi was able to provide an international perspective on how Finland promotes equality and diversity in their foreign service as well as in society more broadly.
The program was held at the DACOR Bacon House, which also featured a panel discussion made up of current and former US diplomats. It included Ambassador Nancy Powell, former Director General of the Foreign Service and five-time US ambassador; Julie Chung, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Japan; Christina Le, Foreign Service Officer and president of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association; Liz Lee, Foreign Service Officer and a 2017-2018 John L. Weinberg Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University; and Ambassador Bloch as moderator.
Much of the discussion centered around the importance of diversity and the roadblocks that continue limiting women in the Foreign Service, the consequences caused by these gender disparities, and the overall outlook for women diplomats moving forward.
Each of the panelists brought something unique and different when discussing these issues. Le opened by highlighting some of the challenges specifically impacting Asian American women while Chung discussed her experience growing up as an immigrant and the impact that’s had on her career. Lee meanwhile, shared research she did on the topic during her time as a John L. Weinberg Fellow at Princeton University.
As the longest serving Foreign Service Officer on the panel, Ambassador Powell noted some of the changes that have helped increase diversity over the years including the shattering of the glass ceiling for senior level positions and the addition of mentorship programs. She did however, also point out that more needs to be done.
As the person once charged with the hiring she ended her remarks by encouraging women to stand up quicker when seeking senior positions.
“Be confident in your abilities,” she said. “Don’t be unrealistic but go for it,” she added.
Following a very informative panel and dinner reception, Ambassador Bloch thanked everyone for their attendance and participation in the event. She noted a special thanks to the nine supporting organizations, the speakers and panelists, as well as to Mark Erwin and Accume Partners for their generous contributions in underwriting this event.
这一场合也标志着USCET主席Julia Chang Bloch担任美国首位亚裔美国驻外大使的第25年，以及对Thomas R. Pickering外交事务奖学金26年来做出的贡献的认同。Pickering大使是USCET顾问委员会的成员，该奖项是以他的名字命名的，他对奖学金项目以及该项目自1992年成立以来在增加服务多样性方面发挥的重要作用给予了高度评价。
芬兰驻美国大使Kirsti Kauppi和美国国务院教育与文化事务局首席副助理国务卿Jennifer Zimdahl Galt也都分享了她们的经验以及在晚宴的时候他们还分享了她们所面对过的挑战。作为外国政府的代表，Kauppi大使提供了一个关于芬兰是如何促进其外交服务以及更广泛社会中的平等与多样性的国际观点。
活动在DACOR Bacon House举办，专题研讨会由现任及前任美国外交官组成。这其中包括了前任外交部总干事及5次美国驻外大使Nancy Powell、代理日本副助理秘书长Julie Chung、美国外交官及美国亚裔外交协会主席Christina Le、美国外交官及2017-2018普林斯顿大学Woodrow Wilson学院John L. Weinberg研究员以及主持人Bloch大使。
每一个专题研讨会都给予了一些独特与不同的观点。在Chung提到自己作为移民的成长经验以及对她职业生涯的影响时，Le同时也强调了一些对亚裔美国女性的影响。期间Lee还分享她在普利斯顿大学做John L. Weinberg研究员时做的研究。
在研讨会和晚宴之后，Bloch大使感谢各位的到来和参与。她特别感谢了9个对这项活动大力支持的组织、演讲者们和小组成员，以及Mark Erwin和Accume Partners，感谢他们对这次活动的大力支持。