This week's "Photo of the Week" comes to us from Foreign Service Officer Ben Chang and shows Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine as she prepares for her swearing-in ceremony with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on April 24, 2012.
At her swearing-in ceremony, Under Secretary Sonenshine said, "Policy is about people. Without a deeper understanding of foreign publics, our policies are just flying blind. We can't depend only on conversations with political leaders. We have to connect with people, and let them know we are listening, we care, and we are working to support them.
"We have to be texting, blogging, tweeting, and connecting face-to-face -- to empower young people, women and girls, and minorities, engaging to change the minds of extremists who spread misinformation and hatred online, reaching out to make sure our narrative is as robust as the character of our nation. If we enlist public diplomacy effectively, we can enlist the problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow."
On May 3, Under Secretary Sonenshine will travel to Beijing, China to serve as co-coordinator of the third annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE) with Chinese Vice Minister of Education Hao Ping. The CPE aims to promote and strengthen people-to-people ties between the United States and China in the fields of education, culture, science and technology, sports, and women's issues. It provides a high-level annual forum for government and private-sector representatives to discuss cooperation in a broad, strategic manner.
As the new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Tara Sonenshine will serve as the Department's senior public diplomacy official, overseeing the bureaus of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Public Affairs, and International Information Programs, and participates in foreign policy development. As Under Secretary, she leads America's public diplomacy outreach, which includes communications with international audiences, cultural programming, academic grants, educational exchanges, international visitor programs, and U.S. Government efforts to confront ideological support for terrorism.