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State Department Training School Has a New Man on Campus

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Ambassador Daniel Smith, Director of the Foreign Service Institute, delivers remarks at his swearing-in ceremony at the Foreign Service Institute on Friday. Ambassador Daniel Smith, Director of the Foreign Service Institute, delivers remarks at his swearing-in ceremony at the Foreign Service Institute on Friday. State Department photo

The State Department would benefit from “a true long-term reinvestment in the department’s talent,” Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said on Friday.

He was referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s intention to expand the mid-career education work of the 1,500-employee Foreign Service Institute so that the “workforce is held to the highest levels of training and professionalism in the world.”

Sullivan spoke before swearing in Ambassador Daniel Smith as the 21st director of the Arlington, Va.-based institute, which last year celebrated its 70th year of schooling diplomats in everything from languages to running a consulate to helping families transition to life abroad.

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When Smith was State’s executive secretary, Sullivan said, “Both Secretary [Rex] Tillerson and Pompeo relied on Dan in difficult situations for perspective and judgement. I have too.”

He quoted colleagues who praised Smith for paying as much attention to “the retirement party for a cleaning woman” as to high-level officials.

Smith just last month was honored by the Senate with the prestigious title of career ambassador, State’s highest rank. He previously served as assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research and in posts in Bern, Switzerland, Athens, Stockholm, Ottawa and Istanbul. To the post of State’s “chief learning officer,” he brings a Ph.D. from Stanford University. He also received the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award, a Presidential Distinguished Service Award, and several Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.

To the audience of employees, Smith promised to make FSI “even stronger. That means delivering the best possible training to all the department’s employees, whether Foreign Service, Civil Service, locally employed staff, or non-career, as well as for employees of other agencies.  It also means providing support for our vital eligible family members,” he said.

He echoed Sullivan’s comment that the FSI “must be guided by the vision of ‘one team, one mission, one future.’ To succeed in our mission, we must deliver training that is effective, relevant, and impactful—and deliver that training to people who are literally all over the world,” he added.

When he reports for work next week, Smith said, he plans to plant a sapling that will “serve as a symbol of the ever growing and developing nature of the training we provide here.”

President Trump considered Smith for several jobs before naming him to run FSI. Since the departure of Nancy McEldowney in June 2017, the institute has been run on an acting basis by Marc Ostfield, who also addressed the crowd and was presented with an encased American flag that had flown over the campus.

Newly named as FSI’s deputy director was the emcee for the Friday ceremony, Ambassador Julieta Valls Noyes.

Charles S. Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books, and organizational media strategies.

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