Office of Public Liaison
Bureau of Public Affairs

Hometown Diplomat Makes Sister Cities Connection Description: Map of India
AUSTIN, TX. Mar. 31 – During a recent visit to Austin, Pamela Pontius, Vice Consul at the U.S. Consulate Hyderabad, India met with Sister Cities Coordinator Marianne Martinez in the office of Mayor Lee Leffingwell. Ms. Pontius discussed her experiences working on the team that opened the State Department's newest post, the U.S. Consulate in Hyderabad, India. Both women also discussed the role U.S. embassies play in support of Sister Cities' programs.

Ms. Pontius is a participant in the State Department's Hometown Diplomat Program , in which Department employees volunteer their time during personal visits to their hometowns to speak with local organizations, elected officials, and students of all ages and educational backgrounds.


Connecting Haitian Diaspora Members via Digital Video ConferenceDate: 03/29/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Members of the Haitian Diaspora based in several cities on the East Coast engaged in discussion via digital video conferencing (DVC) technology with Department of State officials. - State Dept Image
WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 29 – Members of the Haitian Diaspora based in several cities on the East Coast engaged in discussion via digital video conferencing (DVC) technology with Department of State officials located in Washington, DC. Locally elected officials in Boston, New York, and Miami partnered with the Department of State's Bureau of Public Affairs and the Haitian Diaspora Working Group in reaching out to members of the Haitian Diaspora in their communities. Participants linked to Washington, DC, where Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela provided a status update on the U.S. government's response to the January earthquake disaster.Date: 03/29/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Members of the Haitian Diaspora based in several cities on the East Coast engaged in discussion via digital video conferencing technology with Department of State officials. - State Dept Image

In addition to Assistant Secretary Valenzuela, officials from the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the U.S. Agency for International Development engaged members of the Diaspora in discussion on such topics of concern as temporary housing, visa issuance, temporary protected status, and reconstruction in advance of the March 31 Haiti Donors' Conference in New York. Date: 03/29/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Locally elected officials in Boston, New York, and Miami partnered with the Department of State's Bureau of Public Affairs and the Haitian Diaspora Working Group. - State Dept ImageThe entire conversation was streamed live online and can be heard on the State Department's Blog Talk Radio station.

For more information about the relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti.


Pennsylvania Students Visit Department, Learn about Public Affairs Operation
WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 26 -- Undergraduate students from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, visited the State Department for a series of briefings focused on the Department's Bureau of Public Affairs and how it works with the media and public through its technology, media, and social media operations. Mark Toner, Director, Office of Press Relations, discussed the Bureau's media operations. Luke Forgerson, the Managing Editor of DipNote , explained how the Department uses DipNote, its official blog, to convey policy priorities and communicate with the public; and Leonard Scensny, Director of the Bureau's Rapid Response Unit, discussed how his office monitors and analyses foreign newspaper articles. Following those briefings, Staci Brothers Ali-Ibrahim, a recruiter from the Bureau of Human Resources, discussed the Department's student programs and career opportunities, encouraging students to consider a career at the State Department.

Date: 03/26/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Undergraduate students from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, visited the State Department for a series of briefings. - State Dept ImageDate: 03/26/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Luke Forgerson, the Managing Editor of DipNote, explained how the Department uses DipNote, its official blog, to convey policy priorities and communicate with the public. - State Dept Image

Date: 03/26/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Staci Brothers Ali-Ibrahim, a recruiter from the Bureau of Human Resources, discussed the Department's student programs and career opportunities. - State Dept Image


Hometown Diplomat Meets with New Jersey Mayor
EATONTOWN, NJ, Mar. 26 - Wendy Rejan, Political Officer at the American Embassy Nassau, Bahamas met with Mayor Gerald J. Tarantolo during a recent visit to Eatontown. She discussed her career in the Foreign Service and the work of the State Department. In a visit to her Alma Mater, Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ, Ms. Rejan spoke about careers in the Foreign Service to fifty students on Monday, March 29 and to a second group of twenty students on Wednesday, March 31.

Ms. Rejan is a participant in the State Department's Hometown Diplomat Program , in which Department employees volunteer their time during visits to their hometowns to engage local organizations, elected officials, and students of all ages and educational backgrounds.


Conference Call: Climate Change and Water Issues in Nigeria Description: Nigeria Map
WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 21 – In advance of World Water Day, Federico San Martini, Water Policy Advisor in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs , and Augustine Fahey, Country Desk Officer in the Bureau of African Affairs , participated in a conference call discussion with members of the Nigerian Diaspora from across the United States. The conference call was hosted by the Organization of Rivers State Communities, USA , and a network of Nigerian Professionals working to foster democratic ideals by stimulating active interest in the affairs of Rivers State of Nigeria. The Department officials focused on the effects of climate change in Africa, specifically in communities from the Rivers State of Nigeria. The organization expressed an interest in hearing more about how the United States is working with the continent to combat climate change, specifically in Nigeria and similar areas, where stable ecosystems are at risk, thus reinforcing existing patterns of water scarcity and increasing the risk of drought. The audio conference produced a fruitful discussion that will result in future calls with this organization on water and climate change issues.


U.S. and International High School Students Discuss Foreign Policy and the Middle East

Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Photo of Secretary Clinton including a photo of a man holding USA banner, a military plane and a photo of military men shaking hands. - State Dept Image

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 19 – 50 students from the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program visited Washington DC on their annual trip. They met with Ash Jain a member of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff for a discussion on US foreign policy priorities and the conflict in the Middle East. Students were given insight into policy making and the multiple points of view that go into complex situations. They also discussed careers in Foreign Service and the benefits of learning multiple languages. The students were a mix of international and US students. The International students will return to their home countries in June, and the US Students will travel abroad to a range of countries in August, where they will live for a year. The Youth Exchange Program is aimed at offering students the opportunity to learn new languages, observe different cultures, make international friends and develop a broader world view.

Ash Jain works on issues relating to the Middle East, including Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and regional security. Prior to joining the Policy Planning Staff, Mr. Jain served as a special advisor for Middle East issues in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation.


U.S. Policy in East Asia Intrigues New Jersey High School Students Date: 03/18/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Jenn Roque explains U.S. policy toward North Korea to students from New Jersey's Windsor Plainsboro High School. - State Dept Image
Jenn Roque explains U.S. policy toward North Korea to students from New Jersey's
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (State Dept. photo).

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 18 - West Windsor-Plainsboro HS South (NJ) students participating in the American Studies Program arrived to the Department of State's Loy Henderson Auditorium on Thursday enthused and ready to discuss hot topics in the East Asian and Pacific region.

Jennifer Roque, North Korea Desk Officer, briefed the group on U.S. policy toward North Korea and engaged students in a Q&A session.

Also leading a similar discussion, Political Officer Seth Patch and Public Diplomacy Director Tom Hamm discussed U.S.-China relations. During the Q&A session, several issues were raised in regards to human rights. West-Windsor students asked many thought-provoking questions, including “Is it a human right violation to ban access to online social networks like Facebook?”

Date: 03/18/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: U.S.-China relations are examined by West Windsor-Plainsboro High School students with the guidance of Tom Hamm and Seth Patch, two State Department officials working on China issues on a daily basis. - State Dept Image
U.S.-China relations are examined by West Windsor-Plainsboro High School students with the guidance of Tom Hamm and Seth Patch, two State Department officials working on China issues on a daily basis (State Dept. photo).


College Students discuss Counter Terrorism with State Department Official

Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: As part of the Lutheran College Consortium's Washington Semester Program 35 college students from all over the country met to discuss Counter-terrorism. - State Dept ImageWASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 17 -- As part of the Lutheran College Consortium's Washington Semester Program 35 college students from all over the country met with Marc Norman, the Deputy Director for Regional Affairs in the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counter-terrorism. Mr. Norman engaged students in a discussion around counter-terrorism and its affect on the United States. The Lutheran College Consortium offers students an opportunity to spend a semester in Washington DC, where they intern and visit various Government agencies. The program's goal is to teach students the inner workings of Washington through a broad education.

Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: As part of the Lutheran College Consortium's Washington Semester Program 35 college students from all over the country met to discuss Counter-terrorism. - State Dept ImageMr. Norman Specializes in European affairs. He entered the Foreign Service in April 1984 and converted to the civil service in 2005. As such, he has served overseas in: London, Belfast, Kingston, and Warsaw. In Washington, he served previously as desk officer for Congo, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea; for Poland and Slovenia; and for the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg; as International Affairs officer in the Office of United Nations Political Affairs responsible for Security Council Reform; and as a Pearson Congressional Fellow on the staff of Senator Paul Simon.


Clemson University Students Delve into the Balkans Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Paul Jukic, Bosnia Desk; Marianne Toussaint, Kosovo Desk; and Katie Garry, Serbia Desk; discuss U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans with students from Clemson University. - State Dept Image
Paul Jukic, Bosnia Desk; Marianne Toussaint, Kosovo Desk; and Katie Garry, Serbia Desk;
discuss U.S. foreign policy in the Balkans with students from Clemson University (State Dept. photo).

WASHINGTON, DC, March 17 – The Balkans were the topic of the day for a group of Clemson University student participating in an intensive week of spring break study. The group of ten upperclassmen enrolled in an accelerated American foreign policy course engaged with several officials from the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs .

Country desk officers Paul Jukic (Bosnia), Marianne Toussaint (Kosovo), and Katie Garry (Serbia) discussed the broad range of policy issues relating to their respective countries and the Balkans region as a whole. The group went deep into the details of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with John Cooney, desk officer for Azerbaijan.

Since many of the Clemson University participants are interested in pursuing careers in foreign affairs, the group discussed careers with the Department of State with Foreign Service Recruiter Ramona Harper. With the informative State Department speakers and other interesting site visits while in Washington, students agreed that it was a great way to get ahead while on spring break!
Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Azerbaijan desk officer John Cooney engages in a discussion on Eurasian conflicts with university students enrolled in a course at Clemson University. - State Dept Image
Azerbaijan desk officer John Cooney engages in a discussion on Eurasian conflicts with
university students enrolled in a course at Clemson University (State Dept. photo).

Date: 03/17/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Clemson University students discuss careers in the Foreign Service with recruiter Ramona Harper. - State Dept Image
Clemson University students discuss careers in the Foreign Service with recruiter Ramona Harper (State Dept. photo).


Williamsburg's Great Decisions Lecture Features Department China Expert
Date: 03/16/2010 Location: Williamsburg, VA Description: Mr. Kritenbrink is the Director of the State Department's Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. - State Dept ImageWILLIAMSBURG, VA, Mar. 16 – The Williamsburg League of Women Voters hosted its 2010 Great Decisions Lecture Series at the Williamsburg Regional Library, featuring Daniel Kritenbrink for a discussion of US -China Security Relations. Mr. Kritenbrink is the Director of the State Department's Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. Before an audience of over 300 members of the Williamsburg community, Mr. Kritenbrink discussed US Policy and US Relations with China. He answered questions related to China's relations with its neighbors and with the U.S., and how its expanding military and economic power will affect traditional U.S. roles and U.S. alliances in East Asia.Date: 03/16/2010 Location: Williamsburg, VA Description: Mr. Kritenbrink discussed US Policy and US Relations with China. He answered questions related to China's relations with its neighbors and with the U.S. - State Dept Image

Date: 03/16/2010 Location: Williamsburg, VA Description: The Williamsburg League of Women Voters hosted its 2010 Great Decisions Lecture Series at the Williamsburg Regional Library, featuring Daniel Kritenbrink for a discussion of US -China Security Relations. - State Dept ImagePrior to his current assignment, Mr. Kritenbrink served at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing as Chief of the Political Section's Internal Unit. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1994, Mr. Kritenbrink has served in Tokyo, Sapporo, Kuwait, Beijing, and in Washington, DC.


Minnesota Students Visit State Department as Part of Washington Public Policy Tour

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 16 -- 29 graduate students from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Policy, visited the State Department as part of their trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders in public policy. Students met with David Bame, a State Department official, who discussed U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Middle East. Daniel Stewart, a Department recruiter, discussed career opportunities and described the recruitment process to the students. Finally, a panel of State Department officials, Ambassador Scott DeLisi, Raymond Maxwell, Briana Saunders, and Katelyn Choe talked about their careers in the State Department and counseled the graduate students on future career choices.

David Bame currently works on Iran and other Middle East issues. A Foreign Service Officer since 1988, Mr. Bame has worked on Middle East, European, and political-military issues at the State Department. He has twice served in the Department's 24-hour Operations Center, including as a Senior Watch Officer on September 11, 2001. He has served abroad in London; Ankara; Jerusalem; and Riyadh.

Date: 03/16/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: 29 graduate students from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Policy, visited the State Department as part of their trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with leaders in public policy. - State Dept Image

Date: 03/16/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Students met with David Bame, a State Department official, who discussed U.S. foreign policy priorities in the Middle East.  - State Dept ImageDate: 03/16/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Daniel Stewart, a Department recruiter, discussed career opportunities and described the recruitment process to the students.   - State Dept Image


Kent State University Students Participate in State Department Briefings

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 11 -- Students from Kent State University's Washington Program in National Issues visited the State Department. Neil Klopfenstein, Director, Washington Foreign Press Center discussed U.S. foreign policy priorities. Mr. Klopfenstein engaged the students in a foreign policy role playing activity to demonstrate how each country has different foreign policy priorities. Justin Reynolds, Iraq Political Desk Officer, explained U.S. foreign policy in Iraq including the recent elections. Students asked many questions about the elections and possible outcomes. Staci Brothers Ali-Ibrahim, Bureau of Human Resources, discussed student programs, and career opportunities in the Department of State, encouraging students to consider a career at the State Department.Date: 03/11/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Neil Klopfenstein, Director, Washington Foreign Press Center discussed U.S. foreign policy priorities. - State Dept Image Date: 03/11/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Students from Kent State University's Washington Program in National Issues visited the State Department. - State Dept Image Date: 03/11/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Staci Brothers Ali-Ibrahim, Bureau of Human Resources, discussed student programs, and career opportunities in the Department of State. - State Dept Image


A Faith in Peace: Current U.S. Policy Issues in the Middle East

WATERFORD, ME, Mar. 11 -- David Bame, a State Department Official visited Colby College to participate deliver the 2010 Lipman Lecture. Before an audience of 75 students and faculty, Mr. Bame discussed U.S. policy towards the Middle East in general and Iran, Iraq, and Arab-Israel peace efforts in particular. Students asked about key issues in Mideast peace efforts, including Israeli settlements, as well as the Iran nuclear issue, careers in the Foreign Service, and other topics. Students and faculty expressed appreciation for Mr. Bame's frank comments and engaging discussion.

The annual Lipman Lecture is devoted to the advancement of Jewish studies at Colby College and was endowed by Bernard Lipman (class of '31). Past Lipman Lecture speakers include Elie Wiesel, Ambassador and President of Tel Aviv University, Itamar Rabinowitch, Amos Oz, Professor Deborah Lipstadt, and other prominent speakers.

David Bame currently works on Iran and other Middle East issues. A Foreign Service Officer since 1988, Mr. Bame has worked on Middle East, European, and political-military issues at the State Department. He has twice served in the Department's 24-hour Operations Center, including as a Senior Watch Officer on September 11, 2001. He has served abroad in London; Ankara; Jerusalem; and Riyadh.


Student Town Hall: Human Rights

Date: 03/11/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: One student from George Washington University asked for clarification on what the State Department means when it says it is "promoting" human rights. - State Dept ImageWASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 11 – Students and faculty from colleges and universities throughout the United States attended a town hall meeting at the US Department of State following the rollout of the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) Michael Posner, the National Security Council's Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power discussed the country reports and broadly discussed the Obama administration's approach on human rights in the 21 st century. Power and Posner discussed trends in the report, and accounts of human rights abuses in China and North Korea, as well as Iran and Russia that are covered in the report. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for DRL Deborah Graze and Deputy Assistant Secretaries for DRL Daniel Baer and Katherine Fitzpatrick joined the leaders for a discussion with the students and faculty following their comments.Date: 03/11/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Students and faculty from colleges and universities throughout the United States attended a town hall meeting at the US Department of State following the rollout of the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights. - State Dept Image

One student from George Washington University asked for clarification on what the State Department means when it says it is “promoting” human rights. Students and faculty from American University, Catholic University, Hope College, Loyola Marymount College, Bowie State University, Johns Hopkins SAIS, Ohio State University, George Mason University, Georgetown, George Washington University, University of Georgia, the University of California, the State University of New York in Brockprort, and more were among attendees. A student intern from the Washington Bureau of the Baptist Press covered the Town Hall meeting ( Read Article ).


U.S. High School Students' View from the Top

WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 10 -- As part of the U.S. Senate Youth Program annual luncheon, high school students from across the country met with Department officials in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the 8 th floor of the State Department headquarters. The student leaders had the opportunity to mingle with Department table hosts and to engage directly with Deputy Secretary James Steinberg. Two students from each state were selected to participate in this Department of Defense education activity through a very competitive nomination and application process. The weeklong introduction to the inner workings of Washington, D.C., took students from Capitol Hill to the White House to the very top of the Department of State. Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley and Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma welcomed students and shared their experiences.
Date: 03/10/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: As part of the U.S. Senate Youth Program annual luncheon, high school students from across the country met with Department officials in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms. - State Dept Image


Intelligence and Research Official Visits Ole Miss

Date: 03/08/2010 Location: Oxford, MS Description: Ambassador John Dinger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research visited the University of Mississippi for a series of meetings with students and faculty. - State Dept ImageOXFORD, MS, Mar. 08 -- Ambassador John Dinger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research visited the University of Mississippi for a series of meetings with students and faculty. He began his tour with a roundtable with students interested in foreign policy and careers in public service, followed by a talk with an Intelligence and Security Studies course on global financial systems and why people in the intelligence community should study economics. Later that evening, he participated in a lecture to over 200 students from the Honors College, International Relations Department, and Department of Law on how the State Department uses US Foreign Policy to counter terrorism. He concluded his trip to Ole Miss with an interview with the university's student-run radio station, WUMS 92.1 FM, "Rebel Radio.”

Date: 03/08/2010 Location: Oxford, MS Description: Ambassador John Dinger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research visited the University of Mississippi for a series of meetings. - State Dept Image

Date: 03/08/2010 Location: Oxford, MS Description: Ambassador John Dinger, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research visited the University of Mississippi for a series of meetings with students and faculty. - State Dept Image


The Winter Lecture Series: A Discussion on Afghanistan and Pakistan
Lincoln, NE, March 7 -- Michael Keays, a member of the Counter-Insurgency and Political-Military Team in the State Department’s Office of Afghanistan Affairs spoke to an audience of 100 community members about U.S. policy towards Afghanistan and how it is being implemented by our military and civilians working together there. His presentation was the last in Lincoln’s 2010 Winter Lecture Series, and followed on presentations about Afghanistan and Pakistan by academics and officials including Tom Gouttierre, the Director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies in Omaha; and General Roger Lemke, the former Nebraska National Guard Commander, and a consultant to the U.S. Government on Afghanistan issues. Video from the event will be available soon on the Prairie Fire Newspaper’s website, which can be found at www.prairiefirenewspaper.com.

Housed at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln Nebraska since 1999, the Winter Lecture Series is supported annually by the Nebraska Humanities Council and subsidiary granting agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. The Winter Series was initiated 26 years ago by the Peace and Justice Ministries of Vine Congressional Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. From its inception, the series served as an open lecture series that attempted to involve the entire community. Annually, the Winter Lecture Series selects one topic and hosts a series of speakers from a variety of academic and other institutions and organizations to engage community members on the topic at hand. The 2009 series featured Richard Zuniga, Deputy Director of the Office of Cuban Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.


Date: 03/03/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: As a follow up to his October 2009 briefing on Guinea, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs William Fitzgerald, discussed the current situation in Guinea with 27 NGO representatives. - State Dept ImageState Department Holds Civil Society Briefing on the Current Situation in GuineaDate: 03/05/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs William Fitzgerald, discussed the current situation in Guinea with 27 NGO representatives and Guinean Diaspora at the State Department. - State Dept Image
WASHINGTON, DC, March 5 – As a follow up to his October 2009 briefing on Guinea, Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs William Fitzgerald, discussed the current situation in Guinea with 27 NGO representatives and Guinean Diaspora at the State Department. Participants included representatives from the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Council on Foreign Relations, Search for Common Ground, National Democratic Institute, International Crisis Group, and the Guinean Association of Greater Washington. In addition to the in-house group, a small group of Guinean Diaspora from New York City joined the discussion via Digital Video Conference.Date: 03/05/2010 Location: Washington, DC Description: Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs William Fitzgerald, discussed the current situation in Guinea.  Participants included representatives from the Africa Faith and Justice Network, Council on Foreign Relations, Search for Common Ground, National Democratic Institute, International Crisis Group, and the Guinean Association of Greater Washington.   - State Dept Image

The briefing was well received by those in attendance, and Mr. Fitzgerald’s remarks on the economic, social, and political issues facing Guinea fueled a productive discussion on how to improve the current situation. Participants’ questions covered a variety of topics, including human rights, judicial reform, upcoming elections, and youth empowerment.


State Department Sends Official to Wisconsin for Great Decisions Lecture
 Description: Map of RussiaDE PERE, WI March 3 – Caroline Savage, Political Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs traveled to De Pere, Wisconsin to participate in St. Norbert College’s Annual Great Decisions Lecture Program. St. Norbert College is a liberal arts college enrolling about 2,200 students in De Pere, Wisconsin (5 miles south of Green Bay). It is one of three institutions of higher learning in Wisconsin that offers the annual Great Decisions Global Affairs Education Program in its entirety. Developed and administered by the Foreign Policy Association of America, Great Decisions programs bring together discussion groups across the country to address current world topics.

The topic of discussion, as outlined by the Foreign Policy Associations Great Decisions program was Russia and its Neighbors: Russia's policy of maintaining a "sphere of influence" in former Soviet satellites has been challenged in recent years by movements against pro-Russia regimes. Russia has pushed back by cutting Ukraine's natural gas supply and intervening in Georgia's campaign in South Ossetia. Will Russia regain its traditional leadership role in the region?

St. Norbert College annually hosts its Great Decisions Lecture Series on Wednesdays starting in February running through April. The Department has provided speakers for this lecture for the past 3 years. All lectures are open to the public. Speakers come from the U.S. Government, foreign embassies, the international business community, academia and international agencies and organizations, such as the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Previous State Department participants include:

2009: Deborah Grout, Economic Officer, Bureau of Economics Energy and Business
Topic: The U.S. and Rising Powers

2008: Ian Kelly, Director, Office of Russian Affairs
Topic: The Future of US-Russian Relations

2007: John Hillmeyer, Tajikistan Desk Officer
Topic: U.S. Policy in Central Asia as part of the lecture series

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