Washington Post Announces Personnel Change
Tuesday, May 24th 2011
It is often said that the best inter-office memorandum inside the Beltway is the Washington Post newspaper.
The publication again played that role Tuesday morning with the announcement by Al Kamen on page A19 that "State Dept. official McHale to exit." Thus will end the tenure of the sixth Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs since the position was created as part of the USIA-State merger in 1999.
In fact, the Under Secretary's departure has been rumored for a couple of weeks, and the rumors only swirled faster after long-time advisor and de facto chief of staff Kitty DiMartino told colleagues that she planned to leave her post in the Under Secretary's office as of June 10.
Of course attention now turns to a successor.
Some in the public diplomacy community hope that Ann Stock, presently the Assistant Secretary for Education and Cultural Affairs, might be elevated to the "R" chair. Others are scared to death that might happen, fearing that ECA will thereby lose one of the best leaders that bureau has had in a long time. At one time Doug Wilson -- who served admirably at USIA in the Clinton Administration -- was thought to be a likely candidate for Under Secretary of State. However, he is currently gainfully employed across the river as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
Obviously, some of the State career folks such as Larry Schwartz and Ambassador Richard LeBaron will be influential during the transition period.
Certainly the question of a successor will be closely followed in Washington's close-knit strategic communication community, especially including the Defense Department. Ever since the long vacancies during which the R under secretary job went unfilled during the Bush Administration, there has been a strong and consistent demand signal for clear leadership on public diplomacy and America's communication abroad.