THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
PDAA Award Winners
n May 15, the Public Diplomacy
Alumni Association held its 19th
annual presentation of Awards for Excel-
lence in Public Diplomacy.
PDAA is a volunteer, nonprofit organi-
zation of current and former State Depart-
ment, broadcast, academic and private-
sector public diplomacy professionals.
Nominations were received from U.S.
embassies in every region of the world
and from Washington. Each was unique
but remarkably consistent in the excel-
lent work that is done every day by dedi-
cated public diplomacy practitioners.
Winner Tanya Brothen, an AFSA
member and assistant information
officer in Kabul, showed, as her nomi-
nation put it, “extraordinary creativity,
diplomacy and tenacity in bringing the
documentary film ‘Frame by Frame’ to
premiere in Afghanistan at U.S. Embassy
Kabul—an initiative that influenced
efforts to legislate protections for media
practitioners and foster a free press in
Joining Tanya as winners of the 2016
PDAA awards are Public Affairs Officers
Stephen Ibelli and Brenda Soya, both
AFSA members, as well as Coordinator
Milica Raskovic and Program Coordina-
tor Marko Bumbic from the American
Corner in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Ibelli received his award for promot-
ing the U.S. presence in conflict-ravaged
Libya while working from Tunisia.
The citation reads: “For exceptional
analysis, innovation and single-handed
hard work in creating robust social
media outreach that engaged Libyans
on U.S. policy and culture, established
contact with a new generation and
re-established exchange programs, all
while working under the extreme chal-
lenges of a post in exile outside the host
Soya knew that the U.S. ambassador
to Burkina Faso wanted to get outside
the embassy fortress in Ouagadougou to
connect with the Burkinabe, exchange
alumni, government officials and others
and to build “the image of an ambassa-
dor as someone who knows Burkina well
enough that I could deliver difficult mes-
sages without offending people.” Soya’s
efforts to get “out of the bubble” greatly
helped U.S. relations in the country.
Finally, Milica Raskovic and Marko
Bumbic received a PDAA award for their
extensive programming initiatives in an
environment where only 20 percent of
the population has a favorable attitude
toward the United States.
Their efforts have become a model
for American Corners throughout the
region, says nominator William Hen-
derson, public affairs officer at U.S.
For full coverage of the PDAA awards
and a complete list of PDAA’s award
winners since 1993, visitwww.pdaa
—Gemma Dvorak, Associate Editor
Diplomats Dissent on
n mid-June (as we were about to go to
press), 51 State Department diplomats
signed a Dissent Channel message that is
sharply critical of the Obama administra-
tion’s policies in Syria, according to Mark
Landler, writing inThe New York Times
The story has since been picked up by
numerous other media outlets, including
theNew Yorker ,
TheWashington Post .
Remarkable for the number of signato-
ries, the memo urging “a more muscular
military posture under U.S. leadership”
was submitted via the State Department’s
confidential Dissent Channel a week after
Syrian Prime Minister Bashar al-Assad
vowed to retake “every inch” of his coun-
try from its enemies, defying the United
States and the United Nations.
A draft of the cable was leaked to the
press, a move which has frustrated the
Public Affairs Officer Brenda Soya, left, dances with a student at a school for the deaf in
Burkina Faso during the Arts Envoy program.