McHale circulates farewell message to PD community

On the heels of Tuesday’s Washington Post story that broke the news of her departure from the State Department, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale circulated a departure message to the “PD community” (full text below). McHale outlined the collective work undertaken over the past two years to “implement Secretary Clinton’s vision for diplomacy in the 21st century” and thanked her PD colleagues for “your service, your counsel, and your support.”

The Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy released a statement expressing its “appreciation to Judith McHale for her public service, her leadership and her contributions over the past two years as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Philip Seib, Director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California, gave his take on McHale’s departure in the Huffington Post, noting that he believes her “most valuable contribution may have been to structurally reinforce public diplomacy within the State Department…she took a big step toward increasing the centrality of public diplomacy in American foreign policy.”

Full text of McHale’s message to public diplomacy community:

Dear PD Colleagues, 

Now that the news of my departure has been made public in Washington, I wanted to reach out personally to the PD community.  While I am sad to leave behind valued colleagues and friends, I have found the challenge of being Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs a deeply rewarding one.  Together, we have achieved an enormous amount over the past two years as we have worked to implement Secretary Clinton’s vision for diplomacy in the 21st century.

In the early days, I sought your counsel on what was working and what was not in public diplomacy, and you shared your candid views.  Those ideas became the nucleus of the Strategic Framework for Public Diplomacy, which sought to provide strategic policy focus to public diplomacy activities and to the way we deployed our program and human resources.  Many of you joined non-PD colleagues a year ago to flesh out the Framework by suggesting creative ways we could get back in the game and extend our reach to foreign publics, through the tools you had so vigorously endorsed: international media engagement, English teaching, science and technology, alumni outreach, cultural programs, educational advising, American spaces, and innovative technology.  You have worked with the Washington PD team to implement many of the working group recommendations, and I am proud that we can report progress on every front.   

Your support in implementing other elements of the Framework has been critical.  You have built strong working relationships with the six regional PD DASes as well as your PD Office Directors, ensuring that policy discussions in Washington are informed by an understanding of the reality of the publics with whom you engage.  You keep PA’s new DAS for International Media Engagement hopping with requests for support and guidance, and she delivers – as all of Washington should.   You have gamely and thoughtfully prepared PD goal papers as part of the MSRP – an important first step toward multi-year strategic planning.  And you are engaging with us in Washington on how best to use our limited resources globally as you consider complicated choices in local operations and staffing.  Collectively, we have pushed a lot of change through all levels of the Department over the past two years and overcome resistance where we have found it because of a shared commitment to completing the integration of public diplomacy into the conduct of foreign affairs.  We understand that engaging with foreign publics in ways that are meaningful to them creates a foundation of trust critical to the achievement of any policy objective.  As a group, we are getting better at articulating that PD-policy connection to those who don’t yet get it.  And we as a group are getting better at connecting resources to policy priorities  -- precisely the connection we must make in this time of constrained resources.

There is more to be done in all of these lanes, no matter who is at the helm.  Secretary Clinton wrote the principles of the Framework into the QDDR, and I expect she will make that point to my successor: the work continues.   This is the institutional repair and construction you told me public diplomacy needed – not just the project of one Under Secretary.  As such, I hope you will support the next Under Secretary with the same commitment to and passion for public diplomacy that I have witnessed around the world. 

I thank you all for your service, your counsel, and your support.  You have my very best wishes in all that you undertake.