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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

SEPTEMBER 2017

39

My first call was to my

former New Delhi DCM,

Don Lu, who was stuck in

the confirmation process,

to recruit him to be my dep-

uty. We then started putting

together a small team from

the Bureau of Oceans and

International Environmen-

tal and Scientific Affairs and

those working on medical

and post evacuations. We were a bit of a ragtag operation, but

everyone was incredibly dedicated and worked long hours to

secure and coordinate international support and to help the mis-

sions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea cope with the disease

and the influx of assistance.

I represented the department at most interagency meetings,

in addition to briefing the Hill and doing media interviews. I am

hopeful that the lessons learned will result in maintaining a small

office capable of tracking potential pandemics and of advising

senior leaders when a more robust response is needed before

they become major crises.

FSJ:

More recently, I understand that you have mentored

three recent ambassadorial seminar classes. How is working with

ambassadors in training different from the mentoring you did

while on active duty?

NJP:

I’m actually up to five classes and have enjoyed it very

much. For the career people, the emphasis is on helping them

adopt successful strategies for leading their missions and avoid-

ing pitfalls that lead to failure. For the non-career appointees,

the focus is on helping them to understand how the department

works and on their authorities and how to use them.

FSJ:

What are the essential ingredients for a successful diplo-

mat?

NJP:

I think the key elements are:

• Patriotism, and a recognition that we have a unique privi-

lege to serve the American people, not the bureau or country of

our current assignment;

• Integrity in all that we do whether it is adjudicating visas,

administering programs or providing analysis of political and

economic developments;

• Respect for our embassy and department colleagues, all of

whom are supporting our mission no matter what their role, and

for host-government officials and citizens;

• Energy and enthusi-

asm for the tasks at hand,

as well as for continuing to

learn; and

• A well-developed

sense of the absurd and a

sense of humor.

FSJ:

Today’s budgetary

climate is certainly far less

promising than it was when

you were Director General. Howwould you describe your level of

optimism about the state of the Foreign Service and the future of

professional diplomacy?

NJP:

I share the concern of those who believe that the

announced cuts in funding and personnel are misplaced and have

the potential to do damage to our country and its security. While

I support the general concept of a well-informed reorganization

of some elements of the department, I amdeeply opposed to sug-

gestions that the visa and refugee functions be transferred to the

Department of Homeland Security.

I have taken some comfort in the testimonials of our Depart-

ment of Defense colleagues, members of Congress and former

appointees, who have been outspoken in their support for the

Department of State and their recognition of the role it needs to

play to ensure our national security. I struggle to understand our

current national security leadership’s reluctance to fully engage

the department in meeting the complex challenges we face as

a nation. I have every confidence that the Foreign Service will

continue to provide their expertise and experience and be will-

ing to serve.

FSJ:

How has the role of the Foreign Service changed since you

first joined?

NJP:

The Service is much larger andmuchmore diverse.

Women play a muchmore significant role in its leadership. Non-

State Department agencies have greatly expanded at posts and

in their influence in national security decisions. The functional

bureaus have expanded to address the growing list of global issues.

FSJ:

What advice do you give to young people today who are

considering a career in the Foreign Service?

NJP:

Go for it! You’ll never find a more fascinating career that

allows you to serve your nation and to learn something new every

day. You will work with an incredible group of people who will

become a part of your family.

n

I struggle to understand our

current national security

leadership’s reluctance to

fully engage the department

in meeting the complex

challenges we face as a nation.