Each month, the U.S. Department of State honors an alumnus from one of our academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchanges in more than 160 countries. All of us at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau are so pleased that the Department of State selected Ms. Christine Campbell as April's State Alumni Member of the Month in recognition of her leadership and commitment to public service. Last night, we had an opportunity to applaud Ms. Campbell at a reception hosted by U.S. Charge d'Affaires John Dinkelman for all State exchange program alumni in The Bahamas.
Throughout her career, Ms. Campbell has been a central force in the prevention of drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas. Today, in her capacity as the Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas' officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Women's Affairs, Ms. Campbell has brought a renewed public focus to the issues affecting women throughout her country.
I first met Ms. Campbell in October 2010, during an event at which we invited the country's civil society leaders and advocates to meet Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Julissa Reynoso. I spent much of my time that evening talking with Ms. Campbell, who had recently stepped down as the Director of the HIV/AIDS Center to head the Bureau of Women's Affairs. I could tell from our very first conversation that Ms. Campbell was committed to being a voice for the voiceless and an advocate for change. And, I am certain anyone who met Ms. Campbell in the United States during her participation in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) would have come to the same conclusion.
IVLP, which focuses on emerging leaders in critical fields, sends participants to the United States for professional development alongside peers from all around the world. Ms. Campbell told me a concept that remained with her after her two IVLP exchange experiences -- first in 1987 on the topic of drug abuse prevention and again in 2001 on the topic of HIV/AIDS -- was the value of networking, especially among women.
It is clear that Ms. Campbell is committed to tapping into the talents of women from all walks of life. One recent example is this year's commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Women's Suffrage Movement in The Bahamas. In preparation for the year-long celebration, Ms. Campbell worked with a number of State exchange program alumnae, including Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson, head of the non-governmental organization The Crisis Center, and historian Dr. Gail Saunders, who has provided guidance while researching the women's movement in The Bahamas.
Ms. Campbell is also a dedicated mentor to emerging female leaders. This group includes The Tribune newspaper's features editor, Noelle Nicholls, another State alumna, who recently established a weekly section called "Woman" to bring greater focus to issues that are important to Bahamian women and to provide a space for other talented female writers.
The U.S. Embassy Nassau team is proud that our exchange alumni represent a diverse cross-section of society, including senior government advisers, academics, artists, business and civil society leaders, journalists, and other present and future leaders of Bahamian society. The U.S. Embassy began implementing exchange programs soon after the Commonwealth of The Bahamas gained independence from Great Britain in 1973. Today, more than 200 Bahamians have taken part in Department of State-sponsored exchange programs, and the ties between our two countries have only strengthened over the course of the last four decades.
Without a doubt, these academic and professional exchange programs have had a strong impact on both of our countries. As Ms. Campbell's leadership on a range of issues demonstrates, Department of State exchanges strengthen society by enhancing skills and providing a new global network that alumni can continue to leverage. We salute Ms. Campbell and all of our Bahamian State alumni for making enormous and valuable contributions throughout The Bahamas in a time of remarkable global change.