The 2021 Lois Roth Award went to Public Affairs Officer William Couch from the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Bill skillfully used a range of cultural diplomacy tools, over two years, to reverse Finnish opposition to repatriating the remains of 20 Indigenous People and their funerary objects for reburial in Mesa Verde National Park. Bill coordinated U.S. and Finnish officials, the National Museum of Finland, American Airlines, tribal governments, and the National Park Service, an effort resulting in global guidance from Washington tasking all Missions to seek out and assist in repatriation of remains and artifacts.
An Honorable Mention was also awarded to Cultural Affairs Officer Raisa Dukas from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Raisa’s incredible support to her peers, subordinates, and interlocutors, her mentoring and creation of a new, but now permanent, regional Community of Practice for PD practitioners, and her creative programming and broad strategic outreach plan that attracted new partners and beneficiaries for USG programs will have a lasting influence on regional cultural diplomacy efforts and richly exemplify the legacy of Lois Roth.
The 2020 Lois Roth Award went to Cultural Affairs Officer Davida MacDonald from the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. Davida was recognized for the “Moonshot Morocco” campaign she designed that transformed the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing into a year-long celebration and captured the imagination of thousands of Moroccans. The campaign provided STEM programming to Moroccan youth and demonstrated America’s leadership in the fields of space exploration, technology and innovation. “Moonshot Morocco” consisted of 50+ events across 24 Moroccan cities and engaged more than 15,000 STEM enthusiasts and emerging entrepreneurs in person and tens of thousands online through complementary social media content. The campaign capstone, “Moonshot Morocco Youth Festival,” attracted more than 6,000 attendees over three days and consisted of more than 100 activities, including workshops, plenaries and public events offering simultaneous programming. Participants described the festival–the first of its kind to take place in Morocco–as one of the most inspiring events they had ever attended.
An Honorable Mention was also awarded to Cultural Affairs Officer Holly Zardus from the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo for her creation of BOLD (Bosanski Omladinski Lideri), a multi-faceted program to address the problems facing Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by developing a new cadre of leaders. Holly marshaled a full range of public diplomacy programming, leveraged support from her network in Washington, D.C., and included the participation of the Ambassador and staff from other agencies and sections at post. She took advantage of existing exchange programs, and where those didn’t exist, she created new business-focused projects and short-term academic programs focused on civic and economic development. BOLD has drawn interest from other posts and has the potential for becoming a regional program.
As Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Nicole has shown great ingenuity in cultural diplomacy programming that creates lasting mutual respect and understanding between the people of the U.S. and Madagascar. Her innovative programming included a modernized English language learning symposium, a musical education workshop series that brought together local and American artists and a U.S. film festival in which films were dubbed or subtitled in Malagasy. Nicole’s deep understanding of Malagasy culture and current cultural trends and her dedication to creating impactful programming reached previously untapped audiences and made the United States the leading voice in cultural diplomacy across Madagascar.
Jeffrey’s work as a Cultural Affairs Officer transformed U.S. public diplomacy efforts in Tanzania and created a lasting positive impact. By cultivating a strong network of contacts, Jeff partnered with local organizations to host meaningful programming, such as the first-ever Tanzanian girls entrepreneurship summit for young female innovators. Jeffrey’s work demonstrates a deep compassion for and knowledge of Tanzanian culture and history through which he has created programming that is relevant to the unique interests of the Tanzanian people and advances U.S. cultural diplomacy in Tanzania.
Robin’s ingenious use of art and culture to reach Palestinian youth and women’s groups helped them develop skills help themselves through programs that provided arts management courses, entrepreneurial support, and cultural tourism development. Her collaboration with Palestinian civil society organization and intensive social research enabled her Post to innovate their engagement with Palestinian women. With delicate cultural sensitivity Robin mentored staff, grantees and alumni to build interacting layers of human resources and a strategic framework that will benefit post programs for years to come.
Monica harnessed her creativity to support public diplomacy in Cambodia amid political turmoil. She engaged with Cambodia’s majority-youth population through programing that addressed themes relevant to them and that emphasized aspects of the U.S. that they admired. She was also integral to the success of her Post’s college fairs and regional youth alumni conference, further highlighting her dedication to youth-oriented programming. Her contacts and colleagues admire her kindness, work-ethic and ability to boost the impact all types of programming, including cultural preservation projects, exhibits on US-Cambodian history, and the inauguration of the New American Center.
Margot’s exceptional Japanese language skills and deep knowledge of Japanese culture and history enabled her remarkable achievements as a Country Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy Tokyo: fighting for adequate legal protection for trafficked persons; promoting gender equality in the workplace; and even challenging traditional gender roles by performing the lead role in a Kabuki theater performance, a position normally reserved for men. Margot innovated the evaluation of various outreach initiatives, tracking the outcomes of huge funding resources, and creating a new method with the potential for worldwide adoption within the State Department. Her 25-year career exemplified groundbreaking programming paired with mentoring and service to the wider profession.
Through his work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Edginton has inspired countless colleagues and transformed staff roles. He has energized the U.S. Embassy’s engagement with youth and women and brought innovations to its arts and education programs. Demonstrating Lois Roth’s knack for finding audiences where they live, David also created a series of cartoon YouTube videos to promote studying in the U.S. These became the most-watched State Department videos in history.
Public Affairs Officer at the US Mission to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, Kearney exhibited consummate skill in forging partnerships among alumni of the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, reinvigorating programs, cultivating new audiences, and establishing a broad base of influential contacts. Her innovative and forward-leaning social inclusion programs promoted equality for women, the LGBT community, those with disabilities, at-risk youth, and other marginalized persons. Her STEM programs have resonated throughout the eastern Caribbean, and, in support of President Obama’s educational initiative for the Americas, she facilitated agreements between US and Caribbean universities and organized college fairs.
In recognition of her work in the Czech Republic. Keneson-Hall’s approach connects an astounding range of people and venues: from Pilsen to Prague, from a police force to the Republic’s most famous artist, with visitors from Bill Murray to Wes Anderson, and from those seeking contact with America in person to those who live online. A long list of accomplishments conveys her exceptionally creative, bold, accessible and energetic approach to cultural and educational exchange.
In recognition of his work as a Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique and, in particular, of his unusually innovative programming targeting youth, including a “student achievers program” that created local student networks engaging with topics such as entrepreneurship, civic participation and political party development.
In recognition of her work as the longest serving public diplomacy officer in Pakistan in over ten years. In particular, Fendrick showed courage and commitment in carrying out programs, in the utility of her proposals, and in her leadership of staff, originality and energy, decisiveness, and positive outlook and can-do attitude.
In recognition of how, in the face of budget cuts and security threats in northeastern Mexico, Beale used grace, energy and ingenuity in nurturing an imaginative program that deepened U.S. ties to local communities and upheld a positive image of the consulate as a community participant.
In recognition of her 26-year cultural affairs career and of her work as the Branch Chief for Educational Information Resources at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
In recognition of her work in Kazakhstan, with “significant contributions to educational and cultural diplomacy while leading and mentoring American and national colleagues.”
*The Prix Coindreau Prize, The Jeanne Varnay Pleasants Prize for Language Teaching, and the CASVA-Henry & Judith Millon Award are currently inactive.