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Inauguration of the First Class of Powell Fellows

Remark at the Inauguration of the First Class of Powell Fellows

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
June 30, 2005

(11:30 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. It gives me great pleasure -- everyone can sit down, there we go, thank you. (Laughter.) It gives me great pleasure to welcome Secretary Powell back here to the Department of State. And it's especially fitting that his first trip back here should be for the inauguration of the first class of Powell Fellows.

During his distinguished tenure as Secretary of State, Secretary Powell put a high priority on ensuring that the men and women of the State Department are equipped to meet the demands of 21st century diplomacy. Our people are our greatest assets. We need to invest in their futures by rewarding achievement, encouraging initiative and offering a full range of training and other career development opportunities. Those opportunities greatly expanded on Secretary Powell's watch and are one of his most important legacies.

This is a time of global transformation and it calls for transformational diplomacy. As President Bush has said, the only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror and replace hatred with hope is the force of human freedom. In the demanding years ahead, the primary instrument for advancing America's freedom agenda will be the dedicated men and women of the Department of State. More than ever, American diplomats will need to be active in spreading democracy, reducing poverty, helping war torn countries onto the path of stability and development and doing our part to protect our homeland. More than ever, we will need men and women who are able to communicate well to reach out to people in other lands and to work in partnership with them to build a freer and safer and better world.

And so I can think of no better way than honoring Secretary Powell than to establish a program that would embody his commitment to preparing a rising generation for the challenges ahead. The Powell Fellows Program, which we inaugurate today, is designed to do exactly that. The program will expose outstanding Civil Service and Foreign Service employees to U.S. and foreign policymakers and opinion leaders inside and outside of the government, helping to broaden their horizons and hone their leadership skills.

This first year of the program, we received 71 nominations from across the Department; all of the nominees were outstanding. Of these, 13 have been selected: 9 Foreign Service Generalists, 2 Foreign Service Specialists, and 2 Civil Service employees. These initial 13 Powell Fellows are broadly representative of the future leadership of the Department. They come from all geographic and several functional Bureaus. I'm very pleased that the group shows the diversity that is also the source of strength for our nation. We send an important signal to the rest of the world about our values and what they mean in practice when we are represented by people of all backgrounds.

I extend my warmest congratulations to each of our 13 Powell Fellows. Make the most of this wonderful experience and remember that in the challenging decades ahead, much of the success of our transformational diplomacy will depend on you and the work of your generation. As you move forward in your careers, I know that you will demonstrate the inspiring qualities of excellence and leadership that characterized Secretary Powell and his tenure here and the program that so proudly bears his name.

And now, it's my great delight and my honor to present not only my friend and mentor, but someone who has been a friend and mentor to all men and women of the State Department, Colin Powell.

(Applause).

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you. Well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. That's a warm welcome back to the Department. It's a great pleasure to be back, even though this is interfering greatly with my racing and baseball careers. (Laughter.) But nevertheless, it's always a pleasure to be back to see so many old friends and to be back in this beautiful room, which brings back such fond memories for me.

Madame Secretary, I thank you for your gracious remarks. Condi, my dear friend and mentee of many years duration, thank you for inaugurating this program today. And thank you for continuing the legacy, as you said, something we started over the last four years, and that was to make sure that as we went into this transforming future that you describe we were preparing our troops for that future.

I will never forget something that happened many years ago to me. I was at a graduation ceremony and somebody was being recognized at the end of that ceremony. This was about 30 years ago. And Admiral Rickover was there. Great old man. The father of the nuclear navy. And one of the more demanding leaders that anyone has ever worked for. He was known to be demanding not only in the construction of our nuclear submarines but in the selection of those who would be in charge of those submarines, and he was very demanding. And somebody turned to him at this ceremony and said, "Would you like to say a word or two, Admiral?" And Rickover said something that has stuck with me over all the intervening years. He said, "You know, plans are great, programs are great, ideas are great, concepts are great, organizations are great. But the only thing that gets anything done is people. And therefore, you have to invest in people if you want to have a functioning organization." And investing in people means you not only give them leadership from the top and the right plans and the right missions that are to be accomplished, but that you prepare them, each and every one of them, to play a role in the accomplishment of that mission.

And so over the last four years, and now continuing under Condi's very, very distinguished leadership -- and she's off to a terrific start -- I'm glad to see that we are going to continue to invest in our people. We put leadership into the Foreign Service Institute at every level. We brought back senior leaders and middle managers who had not been exposed to the kind of leadership techniques we thought were important and made sure that they were caught up so that they understood what we were trying to accomplish.

And with this program now, Powell Fellows -- wonderful young Foreign Service, Civil Service and Foreign Specialists who are still early in their career -- are given an opportunity to come out of the jobs they are in and for a brief period of time, several times a year, to be exposed to the challenges that they will be exposed to, a similar nature of challenges, when they become senior officers in their component.

It's important that they understand the challenges that Dr. Rice has to face on a regular basis, or all the Assistant and Under Secretaries. It's important for them to understand the political and public relations environment in which one conducts foreign policy and pushes forward with our diplomatic efforts.

And so this is a remarkable opportunity that you 13 winners today are being given, and I know you will take full advantage of it. But it's not just an opportunity for you. After you go home to the various two- and three-day sessions that await you, it's important for you to talk to all of your fellow leaders out there who are waiting to hear, "How was it? What did you do? What happened? Did you get into any trouble?" (Laughter.) But it's important for you to share the experience otherwise the experience doesn't have the same value and the same leverage. So take notes and go back and describe to your colleagues back in all of your various postings, what you see here, what you learned here, so that you can get maximum leverage out of this experience.

These kinds of programs are great. In my career, I was a White House Fellow, which is a little bit like this, where I was essentially pulled up out of the day-to-day business of being a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and suddenly sitting in the White House trying to make sense of how all that worked. It is some thirty-odd years later and occasionally I had the same experience -- try to figure out how government works at the most senior level, even when you are in government at the most senior level, because government is challenging, bureaucracies are challenging. What makes it all work are gifted leaders, gifted people, gifted leaders who understand that it isn't just leadership at the seventh and eighth floors, it's leadership everywhere throughout the Department. I was committed to that; Dr. Rice is committed to that. And you are a part of that leadership legacy.

So it gives me great pleasure to be with you this morning to congratulate the people who have been selected for this inaugural class and to hope that I will be invited back over the course of this year and the years that follow, so that I can do my mentoring a little bit close up to the group and not just by giving my name to the group.

And so Secretary Rice, I thank you for inviting me back to the Department today and I thank you for naming this very, very important program after me and good luck to all of the new Powell Fellows. Thank you.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. Secretary, Secretary Powell, all of us in the Career Foreign Civil Service welcome you back to the State Department. And we thank you for the superb leadership that you gave to all the men and women of the Civil Service and of the Specialists in the Foreign Service during your superb tenure as our Secretary of State.

Madame Secretary, Secretary Rice, we thank you for creating this Powell Fellows Program, for giving these young officers and specialists the chance to shine. They're among our most superb colleagues and we welcome them here today.

It's my great pleasure today to welcome the Powell Fellows, and may I ask each of you to approach the podium as I call your name. And as I read your name, please stand at the designated toe marker. (Laughter.) I'll say a few words about you.

And let me begin with Mr. Bix Aliu. Bix Aliu is a Public Diplomacy Specialist. He's a Foreign Service Officer currently serving in Warsaw. He joined the State Department in 1999. He has served in Skopje -- with Ambassador Hill, no doubt -- and in Dubai. He has a medical degree from the University of Pristina. He's a fluent speaker of Albanian, Macedonian, and Polish. His colleagues know his ability to handle unusual and challenging projects and his creative and innovative approach to promoting American national interests. Congratulations, Bix.

(Applause)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. Luke A. Forgerson. Luke is a Public Affairs Specialist in our Bureau of Public Affairs. He joined the State Department in 2002 in the Career Entry Program. And since joining Public Affairs he has managed domestic media outreach efforts. He worked in our G-8 Sea Island summit last year and on many other international events. His colleagues respect him for his professional competence and his exceptional interpersonal talents. Congratulations, Luke.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. Philippe G. Furstenberg. Philippe is a Diplomatic Security Officer and a Foreign Service Specialist. He joined the Department in 1999. He's had assignments in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security in Sri Lanka and in the Boston Field Office, where he informed me he became a member of Red Sox Nation. (Laughter.) He is currently assigned to Washington and he works on visa fraud. He is known for his skills in criminal investigation and problem solving. Congratulations, Philippe.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. Joshua D. Glazeroff. Josh is a Consular Officer now assigned to the Bureau of Human Resources. And since joining our ranks in 1997, he's served in Santo Domingo, in Durbin and in the Consular Affairs Bureau, as well as in the East Asia and Pacific Bureau. He has contributed to the creation of a new career development program for Foreign Service Generalists and he has improved services to our employees. He is also a volunteer in our Crisis Response exercises. Josh, congratulations.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Ms. Heidi N. Gomez. Heidi is an Economic Officer, now serving as Staff Assistant in our Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. She joined the Department in 1988. She has served in Kuala Lumpur, in San Salvador and in Beijing. And throughout her career, Heidi has been recognized for her exceptional managerial, leadership and public speaking skills. She has worked on political crises in Venezuela, Haiti, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Heidi, congratulations to you.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. Dereck J. Hogan. Dereck is a Political Officer. He is leaving soon for a tour in Belarus, in Minsk. He has served in Santo Domingo, in Managua and in the Operations Center and he served as a Special Assistant to Secretary Powell. His supervisors and colleagues note his energy and integrity, as well as his leadership and management skills. He is a former Pickering Fellow. He has a very firm commitment to our Department and to our service and its employees and he's going to have a very challenging assignment to promote democracy in Belarus. Dereck, congratulations.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Ms. Melissa J. Lan. Melissa is a Political Officer. She joined the State Department and Foreign Service in 2002. She served for two years in Seoul before taking up her current assignment as an International Relations Officer in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. She is known for her leadership skills, her sense of responsibility, her aptitude for work and she had made significant contributions to our Trafficking in Persons Report and also was very much involved in our response to the tsunami disaster in South and East Asia. Congratulations, Melissa.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mikael C. McCowan. Michael is a Management Officer who joined the State Department in 1999. He served in Port-au-Prince, in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and in our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. He has been in that Bureau since 2004. He also served on the Iraq Desk during the run-up to Iraqi -- Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and throughout the period of the Coalition Provisional Authority. He's worked to promote a more effective counternarcotics program with the Government of Kyrgyzstan recently. And Michael, we congratulate you as well.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Holly McRea. Holly is an Information Management Specialist who joined the State Department in 1999. She has served in Moscow, in Riyadh and in our Information Resource Management Bureau. She is serving now as the Executive Assistant to our Chief Information Security Officer and those are important duties in trying to strengthen the ability of the Department to have a good and sound information security system. Holly, congratulations to you.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Mr. John Mongan. John is a Management Officer, joined the Foreign Service in 1999. He has served in Tirana, in Pristina and with our mission in Kabul, where he is currently working with the Provincial Reconstruction Team outside of Kabul, actually, in Ghazni. He's on the front lines in of the most important countries to us in the world. He played a key role in Afghanistan's first presidential election. He's now working with local officials to promote the role of the Central Government and the provinces, and he will soon join the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stability. John, congratulations to you.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Ms. Gwen Pascoe. Gwen is an Economics Officer. She joined the Department along with many of the other Powell Fellows in 1999. She has served in Shenyang and in London before being assigned to the Executive Secretariat as a Staff Officer in 2003. She's excelled in two very different assignments overseas. The first management challenges in Shenyang and our Consulate there and the second very, very tough duty, serving in London as our Economics Officer. But her next assignment is to a tough place and an important place, is to Kabul. Gwen, congratulations.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Ms. Catherine E. Sweet. Catherine joined the State Department in 2001 as a Political Officer. She has served in N'djamena and in Kuwait where she worked as an Economic Officer. She thrives in challenging hardship environments and she looks forward to her next assignment to Jakarta where as a political officer, she'll be responsible for the portfolio on political Islam. Catherine, congratulations.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: And finally, but not last, Kelly J. Tucker. Ms. Kelly J. Tucker who joined the Department as a Civil Service employee in early 2003. She first worked as a Program Analyst in our Bureau of Population of Refugees Immigration. She is now a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of African Affairs. Her responsibilities in that position include managing our bilateral relations with Eritrea and serving as an Assistant to our Assistant Secretary of State, Connie Newman. Kelly, congratulations to you.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Ladies and gentlemen, the Powell Fellows Class of 2005.

(Applause.)

Ms. Gomez: I once had a colleague tell me, "Heidi, just remember the Department doesn't hug you back." Well, today I actually feel it has. It's a great honor to represent the men and women here that have been selected as the inaugural class of the Powell Fellowship Program. We are thrilled to be here and look forward to this extraordinary opportunity.

When I first heard that Secretary Powell had requested Mexico Desk Officers to brief President Bush for his first overseas trip as President, I realized that the State Department was in for a major overhaul in our organizational culture. This act signaled to all of us that Secretary Powell believed in our commitment to advance U.S. national interests abroad and that he trusted our capabilities in informing and shaping U.S. foreign policy.

Sir, your emphasis on taking care of the rank and file, the importance of leadership and professional development compels us to rethink our organizational culture, take stock of the talent that we have and build an organization that is equipped to handle the foreign policy challenges our nation faces in these uncertain times. We are honored and humbled to have been selected as the lucky 13 who will first participate in the fellowship program that honors your legacy of leadership. And we are committed to passing on what we learn in the upcoming year to our colleagues and our peers.

Secretary Rice, we are deeply indebted to you for creating this program. We are all at a critical juncture in our careers and we are seeking insights into how you and others go into shaping and executing our nation's foreign policy. And we are looking to define for ourselves roles that will help advance our mission, whether it be through e-diplomacy, the enhancement of security at the Department or at posts abroad, public diplomacy, a more efficient procurement process or the advancement of our political and economic interests overseas. We expect to learn a lot from the seminars your staff has organized, as well as from each other.

Secretary Rice, in your first remarks to the Department you told us something that we should never forget -- every job in this building is important. The 13 selected for this program reflects this belief. We are dedicated men and women of the Civil and Foreign Services, Generalist and Specialist, from different cultural and academic background. We aspire to be agents of change and progress, and we are here to help answer your call for transformational diplomacy.

We are also an unusually mischievous bunch. Earlier in the week, we sent out cyber introductions that outlined where we're from, what motivated us to the join the Service and the Department and the strangest thing we have done on behalf of the U.S. Government. Among the stories -- names will not be divulged to protect the guilty -- is: the creative use of bonfires; climbing and sliding down the holiest mountain in a thunderstorm in the middle of China in search of peasants who would answer questions about water riots; stopping Yasser Arafat from fleeing negotiations; serving as a backup singer for a former Secretary of State's rendition of "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"; (laughter) -- CDs will be sold on your way out, 10 bucks -- and also dodging bullets in the Congo while being featured in an MTV documentary on child soldiers. If these stories are any indication of the caliber of the Fellows that you selected, we are a very creative, courageous and resourceful bunch.

We would not be here, however, without those who have taken an active interest in our careers and professional development. Their advice and support have been instrumental in the way we execute our jobs, interact with our peers and manage our employees. And so we thank those that encouraged us to apply for the program and supported our nomination.

Finally, I would like to thank Director General Pearson, Under Secretary Burns, Dan Spikes, Chris Hernandez, Leslie Hayden, Lynette Evans and all those who helped to make today possible. Thank you for making this ceremony a memorial event.

As I was looking for inspiration for today's speech, I came across a quote from John Quincy Adams: "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." I can't think of a quote that more aptly describes the man for whom this program honors and the woman who decided to create the program in the first place. So thank you, Secretary Rice and Secretary Powell, for believing in us.

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: That will conclude today's program. Thank you for coming.

(Applause.) 2005/666

Released on June 30, 2005

ENDS


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