Department of State news

Robin Lerner, formerly Counsel for the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Private Sector Exchange at the Department of State.  In her new role, Ms. Lerner will oversee the Exchange Visitor Program.  She succeeds Acting DAS Rick Ruth, who returns to his role as Senior Adviser in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.  

Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs received $586.957 million in the President’s budget request for FY 2013, released this morning. This funding level is a decrease of $11.843 million (approximately 2 per cent) from the final FY 2012 appropriation for exchanges of $598.8 million.

Within this FY13 budget of $586.957 million, the President’s request sets out the following breakdown:

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Former Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens has been designated as “the Acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs pending the Senate’s confirmation of the President’s nominee, Tara Sonenshine,” MountainRunner reports. Ambassador Stephens began her work in this role today. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock had previously been in the role of Acting Under Secretary since July 8, 2011.

The New York Times reports that the Department of State has removed the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA) as a designated sponsor of the Summer Work Travel program. The article also provides some detail on the Department’s upcoming rulemaking for the SWT program:

Lynne Weil has been named Director of Communications and External Affairs of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), according to a BBG press release. Ms. Weil will act as the Board’s primary strategist on communications and outreach activities, and as the Board’s chief advisor for Congressional and external affairs.

In a recent post on his MountainRunner blog, Matt Armstrong, former Executive Director of the recently abolished U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy discusses the role of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (R), specifically the significantly shorter tenure of Under Secretaries for R compared to other Under Secretaries.

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The U.S. Department of State and the Iraqi government are increasing their efforts to enroll more Iraqi students in U.S. universities, USA Today recently reported. The cooperation between the U.S. and Iraq on issues of higher education and cultural exchange was also on the agenda for talks between President Obama and Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last week.

Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs received $598.8 million for FY 2012 in the “megabus” spending package passed by Congress on Friday and Saturday. This funding level is exactly even with the final FY 2011 appropriation for exchanges, and falls $38.9 million below the President’s FY12 request.

The U.S. Department of State issued the below notice in today’s Federal Register announcing “four modifications to the guidelines governing the award of program grants and cooperative agreements.”


76 FR 77581
Dec. 13, 2011

[Public Notice 7727]

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Tara Sonenshine, nominee for the role of Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, stressed the value of people-to-people exchanges in U.S. public diplomacy during her confirmation hearing yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sonenshine said:

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