Diplomatic Gatekeepers!

Diplomatic Gatekeepers!

Photo credit: Courtesy of IFE

Anyone in the below photo clearly wasn’t in their office on August 29th when Institute for Education (IFE) celebrated its Third Annual Social Secretaries Lunch honoring the hard work of our diplomatic communities with co-hosts Coach Kathy Kemper (Founder IFE) and Rosemarie Pauli, former Acting Chief of Protocol, with assistance from Kiyomi Buker (Japan), Gwenda de Moore (Belgium) and Elise Ravenscroft (IFE). Ambassador Sean Lawler, The United States Chief of Protocol, was the special guest along side over 50 gatekeepers who braved the hot sun to attend this special lunch “where secretaries get to meet face-to-face in a casual manner, many for the first time, putting together faces with emails and phone calls.” The lunch was held on The Great Lawn at the historic Congressional Country Club where France, Iceland, Ireland, Singapore, Thailand, Spain, Japan and dozens of other countries were represented.

First a bit of history from Coach Kemper:  “The fun thing about Congressional is how it is such an integral part of the Washington public policy life. It was founded in 1924 by five United States Presidents. The reason it was founded is that the Secretary of the Interior gave the land to the group that wanted to [fund] it. It was because two Congressman from Indiana thought everything was broken in Washington. There is no respect, there is no civility, there is no common ground. We need to build a place where the politicians, the businessman, the academics can all come and recreate and find common ground. They built this and the way that they funded it was not through Congress, but members of the industrial elite: Hearst, the Hearst newspapers, Rockefeller, DuPont, Chrysler. The real rich fat cats funded it so that they could build this beautiful building and these beautiful golf courses. There’s two golf courses. This is world class golf courses. The Tiger Woods Tournament is always here, the U.S. Senior Open. Every President of the United States gets an honorary membership. The Bushes played here a lot, President Clinton played here a lot. President Obama only played here once. As for President Trump, I actually played with him here, not when he was President, like 4 years ago. He was checking out the facility for his golf course out in Virginia. That was a great experience too, as you can imagine. I just think it’s interesting how this club started.”

Rosemarie Pauli, Coach Kathy Kemper, Elise Ravenscroft

Kemper describes the mission of IFE this way: “Many of you are very familiar with the Institute for Education and our mission of engaging the global community to encourage collaboration and common ground by harnessing the power of data, soft diplomacy, innovation and technology. We are into our fourth summer now of founding a computer science free summer coding camp at the University of Southern California for Viterbi School of Engineering. We’ve taught kids coding – ages kindergarten through 9th grade. They’re all underprivileged kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. The average income of their families is $40,000. These are things that kids would never get an opportunity to do. Many places where they could go and learn how to code costs $1,000 and they don’t have the means to do that. We really feel like we are kind of changing lives and making a huge improvement with this opportunity. They do it on USC’s campus – one of the most gorgeous campuses in the world. They see that maybe they could go to school there someday. I get goosebumps when I just talk about it. It is so worthwhile.”

Kathy Kemper and Sean Lawler

We all tried to convince Sean to feel free to take off his tie, but he maintained protocol and didn’t – even though the ice cream was melting while smothered in packs of ice.  At least the sweltering heat kept the chicken and fries hot.

“I want to thank everybody for coming. I know it was probably a huge burden to come out in the sunshine and spend some time with us,” said Ravenscroft, Deputy Director of IFE.  “I am very appreciative of how all of you work with us, not only in hosting events, but also in getting your Ambassadors to attend events so that they can be part of the policy wrap tables that we put together – that’s the main [goal] of IFE.”  The Institute for Education’s mission is to recognize and promote leadership, civility and finding common ground, locally, nationally and in the world community. IFE also educates youth for global citizenship with programs that foster intercultural appreciation.