As one of the Department of State’s 11 Employee Affinity Groups, the Thursday Luncheon Group (TLG) monitors recruitment, assignments, employment practices, promotion patterns, training, and other personnel matters of vital interest to minorities in the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Founded in 1973 by William Davis and Roburt Dumas, TLG sought to increase the participation of African Americans and other minorities in the formulation, articulation, and implementation of United States foreign policy. Four decades later, the Thursday Luncheon Group has over 300 members, including retired and current Department of State and USAID employees, and dedicated members from five other foreign affairs agencies.
The organization continues to support its original goal and has expanded its mission to include the formation of partnerships, minority recruitment, and community service. The Thursday Luncheon Group annually awards the Terence A. Todman Book Scholarship to students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities to encourage them to pursue a career in international affairs. TLG also partners with the American Foreign Service Association to provide one minority student with a 10-week internship at the Department of State.
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary, TLG also hosted a luncheon in the Department’s Benjamin Franklin room to honor Career Ambassador Terence A. Todman. The program featured remarks from Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Director General of the Foreign Service, Ambassador at Large Suzan Johnson Cook, Assistant Secretary Joyce Barr, and Ambassador Edward Perkins, President of the Association of Black American Ambassadors. Ambassador Todman received TLG’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions.
During his forty-year career, Ambassador Todman served as U.S. ambassador to six countries and the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau for Western Hemisphere Affairs. In the early days of TLG, Ambassador Todman provided crucial support to the organization. In 1989, Ambassador Todman became the first African American to be named Career Ambassador, the highest rank among the diplomatic corps.
Founding members Mr. Davis and Mr. Dumas were also honored for their pioneering work in creating the Thursday Luncheon Group.
During his remarks, Mr. Dumas told the story of the origins of TLG. Mr. Dumas recalled how both he and Mr. Davis “decided to invite a number of our contacts from different agencies to lunch and discuss the feasibility of organizing a career support group.” Forty years later, Mr. Dumas expressed his amazement at how TLG, “has exceeded even the very high aspirations that we held at the moment of [the organization’s creation].”
As the Thursday Luncheon Group looks to the future, the organization will redouble its efforts to engage, inspire, recruit, and develop the next generation of international affairs leaders. TLG views its efforts as vitally important in supporting the Department’s mission in carrying out the President’s foreign affairs agenda.