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#FacingDiplomacy: A Digital Storytelling Campaign

March 21, 2022

Building a More Complete History of American Diplomacy

Program Description:

The Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is proud to partner with the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD) to launch #FacingDiplomacy.  This crowdsourced, digital storytelling campaign is part of the National Museum of American Diplomacy’s Facing Diplomacy series.  The goal of this effort is to build a more complete history of American diplomacy, one that includes more diverse stories of all who contribute to advancing U.S. foreign policy.  For more information on how to participate, please download the toolkit.

Today’s discussion will explore how storytelling can advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.  The panel will feature the following speakers who participated in the #FacingDiplomacy campaign: Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley; Executive Director of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, Ben Reames; Communications Specialist at the National Museum of American Diplomacy Shehryar Mufti; and Senior Advisor for Diplomatic Fellowships at Howard University, Michael Veasy.  Caitlin Moses Bowser, director of strategic engagement at StoryCorps, will discuss the tradecraft of storytelling itself. The panel will be moderated by senior advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Maryum Saifee.  


Maryum Saifee, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of State

Maryum Saifee is a senior advisor in the Secretary’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Ms. Saifee started her Foreign Service career in Cairo at the start of the Arab uprisings in 2011. She later served in Baghdad during the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq and spokesperson for the U.S. Consulate in Lahore. In Washington, she was a policy advisor in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, and the Secretary’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs.

Prior to joining the State Department, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan and an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Seattle. She also consulted for the United Nations Development Program, Acumen Fund, and the Ford Foundation. In 2018, Maryum took a sabbatical from the State Department to pursue a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellowship where she worked with the Human Rights Foundation. In her personal capacity, she also led a 30-person task force on State Department reform as a senior visiting fellow at the Truman Center for National Policy. She is a 2019 Presidential Leadership Scholar and a 2021 Women inPower Fellow. Maryum is a graduate of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a focus on human rights issues in the Middle East.




Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, U.S. Department of State

Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a 30-year diplomat, is the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for the Department of State and was the longest serving U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Malta. Through a series of senior positions that included advising the Commander of U.S. cyber forces on our foreign policy priorities, expanding our counterterrorism partners and programs as Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism, and Coordinating the largest evacuation of American citizens from a war zone since WWII, her professional life has played out almost daily in international media.

She began her formal work in teaching and leadership development as Chairwoman for Middle East Area Studies at the prestigious Foreign Service Institute where U.S. diplomats are trained. Earlier in her career, she served in Baghdad, Jakarta, and Cairo before taking on the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for the Middle East and Africa. Her Middle East assignments include election monitoring in the Gaza Strip and an extraordinary assignment where she actively supported gender equality in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the first woman to lead a diplomatic mission there. In addition to the State Department, she has held senior positions at the Defense Department and at the National Security Council. Prior to that, she was a fellow on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for the then Ranking Member, Senator Joseph Biden. Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley is the recipient of the Maltese Order of Merit, Department of State Meritorious and Superior Honor Awards, including “For acts of courage during an attack on the U.S. Consulate General, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on December 6, 2004 by al-Qa’ida terrorists.”

Over the years, Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley has been a keynote speaker for a variety of organizations including IESAbroad, The Cleveland City Club, TrueBlue Inclusion, Harvard University, The University of Denver, The University of Malta, and Johns Hopkins University. She is an in-demand panelist and moderator at some of the most respected international think tanks including The German Marshall Fund, CSIS, The Brookings Institution, The World Affairs Council, and The Council on Foreign Relations on issues ranging from U.S. Mid-East Policy, how diversity and inclusion improve U.S. foreign policy making, cyber security challenges, and counterterrorism. She is a strong proponent of excellence through inclusion across organizations and strives to break down barriers to the full participation of women and minorities. She was Ambassador-in-Residence at Oberlin College for 2020 and served as the Co-Chair of the Diversity in National Security working group for the Biden-Harris campaign.

Ms. Abercrombie-Winstanley, a Cleveland native, has degrees from The George Washington University and The Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She has been an active Board member on several organizations committed to excellence in educating and leadership development including the Forum for Education Abroad, College Now Greater Cleveland, and the International Career Advancement Association. She also served on the boards of the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art and the Middle East Policy Council. She sings with the Washington Performing Arts Society and has been published in the New York Times Opinion and The Foreign Service Journal. She is the co-author of two papers published in the New York Review of Science Fiction on “Diplomacy in Star Trek” and “The Representation of Disability in Star Trek.” In 2019, she was voted into the American Academy of Diplomacy.


Michael Veasy, Senior Advisor for Diplomatic Fellowships for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program and the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program

Michael Veasy serves as the Senior Advisor for Diplomatic Fellowships for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program and the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program at Howard University’s Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center. He is a retired Foreign Service Officer who began his career with the U.S. Department of State in 1992 as a member of the first cohort of Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellows. In 2019, he served as the U.S. Government’s Interagency Coordinator for Ethiopia Assistance. As Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Asmara from 2016 to 2018, Michael played a leading role in U.S.-Eritrean negotiations that helped bring an end to 20 years of conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. From 2013 to 2016, he served as the Deputy Principal Officer and Consular Chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, Mexico. Other assignments include consular tours in Mexico City, London, Johannesburg (twice), and the Visa Office in Washington D.C. He has also served as an Economic Officer in Basrah, Labor Officer in Lagos, and a Recruitment Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources. He is the recipient of a State Department Superior Honor Award and several Meritorious Honor Awards. Prior to his Foreign Service career, Michael interned at the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta, GA.  He has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Morehouse College as well as a master’s degree in Social Change and Development from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.  He is bilingual in English and Spanish.






Shehryar Mufti, Communications Specialist, National Museum of American Diplomacy

Shehryar Mufti is a Contractor and the Video Producer at the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD). Before joining the State Department, Shehryar was a broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker, working with various broadcasters, non-profit organizations and media companies from around the world. Shehryar joined the State department in 2015, with the Bureau of Public Affairs. For the next five years, he created video content for the Department of State’s flagship social media accounts, interviewing both current and former diplomats. Since 2019, as the video producer with NMAD, Shehryar has produced video content for both physical and online exhibits, as well as contributing to the museum’s social media outreach. Shehryar studied Peace and Conflict at Uppsala University, Sweden.




Caitlin Moses Bowser, Director of Strategic Engagement, StoryCorps

Caitlin Moses Bowser is the Director of Strategic Engagement and Custom Services at StoryCorps, an organization that preserves and shares humanity’s stories in order to create a more just and compassionate world. During her tenure, Caitlin and her team have leveraged the power of stories and storytelling to support over 60 organizations with complex storytelling campaigns. Caitlin has over 16 years of experience in program design and implementation, as well as developing and scaling earned revenue streams for nonprofit organizations. Caitlin is a graduate of The University of Massachusetts- Amherst.








Ben Reames, Executive Director, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

Ben Reames is a FSO serving as Executive Director to the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. He was previously the Political Counselor and Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, then a Senior Advisor to EAP. From 2019-2020, he was the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Foreign Service Fellow at Columbia University. Prior to that, he served as Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs covering South and Central Asia and security issues. He has also served as the Senior Program Officer for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement in Mexico, a political officer then Acting Border Coordinator in Afghanistan, Deputy Political and Economic Counselor in Mozambique, a political-military affairs officer in Iraq, and a political and consular officer in the Philippines. Prior to government service, he taught political science and consulted on Latin American justice issues. Ben earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University, a Masters in Public Policy and a Bachelors in Social Science from the University of Michigan Honors College.




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