Page 37 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MAY 2013
37
diversity, but the work that remains to be done.
For that reason, it would be useful, even eye-opening, for
other minority groups at State to conduct similar research.
The Payne Fellowship Program
Motivated by a desire to recruit a more diverse work force,
both State and USAID have steadily improved their outreach
to historically black colleges and minority-serving institutions.
One recent example of this—part of a larger Diversity Engage-
ment Program USAID is pursuing—is the Payne Fellowship
Program, designed to attract outstanding young members of
minority groups to careers in international development.
Modeled after the Rangel Fellowship at the Department of
State, the program is named in honor of a longtime champion
of USAID, Representative Donald M. Payne, D-N.J., who passed
away last year. Launched in March 2012 at Howard Univer-
sity, the fellowship encourages members of minority groups,
especially those with fnancial need, to pursue careers in
international development, where they have been historically
under-represented.
Tis year, the program plans to award two fellowships val-
ued at up to $45,000 annually for two years of graduate study.
It also has a dual summer internship component, requiring
fellows to gain legislative experience working on international
issues for a member of Congress, and to pursue an overseas
internship in a USAID mission.
Tough extremely pleased that we could celebrate the
frst black diplomat, the frst African-American Foreign
Service ofcer, etc., we endeavored to go beyond the
frsts. We wanted to collect information about the sec-
ond, third, even the 85th black U.S. diplomat, as well.
In the next phase of the project we conducted
interviews with agency staf, including Senior Foreign
Service and Civil Service ofcials—mission directors,
ambassadors, ofce directors,
etc.—to glean any historical
data they had collected about
their predecessors. We were
delighted to learn that a trea-
sure trove of such details was
housed in the minds of our
staf and agency leadership.
Our research confrmed
that the proportion of African-
Americans in leadership posi-
tions in the Foreign Service
has waned—both overseas and inWashington—compared to the
relatively high level maintained from the 1860s through the 1930s.
USAID, in particular, has seen low numbers of African-Americans
in leadership positions. Of course, State has been around for more
than two centuries, whereas USAID is barely 50 years old. So per-
haps the disparity shouldn’t be that surprising.
Publicizing Our Findings
Now that we had aggregated a critical mass of information,
we wanted to share it with others. Troughout this process,
the team remained in contact with USAID’s and State’s public
afairs teams. Both were excited about the project’s potential and
ofered to host the fndings on their respective Web sites as part
of their February 2012 Black History Month celebrations.
While we appreciated that ofer, we instead decided to post
the data on Wikipedia (see above). Our page, “African-Ameri-
cans in Foreign Policy,” makes the information available perma-
nently, and also allows anyone with a bit of HTML experience to
contribute names and edit the listings. We invite current, former
and aspiring FSOs to review it and contribute to it.
Our database has already proved benefcial. First, it is
something tangible that a young African-American can point to
and say, “Yes, we can.” It also flls an information gap about the
Foreign Service that has existed for decades, especially in our
schools. And it is a useful reminder for State, USAID and other
foreign afairs agencies not only of the progress they’ve made on
Attendees at a Black
History Month event
gather in the Dean
Acheson Auditorium at
the State Department
to celebrate African-
American achievement
in foreign afairs.