The Secretary's Town Hall: Looking Ahead in Equity at State
Please join Secretary of State Antony Blinken at his third global Town Hall on Tuesday, May 31. The Secretary, joined by Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources Brian P. McKeon and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, will discuss how the Department is “looking ahead in equity at State.” This Town Hall will address how the Department is embedding equity in foreign affairs work through the Equity Action Plan, as well as highlight Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility accomplishments and next steps. We welcome your questions. Virtual attendees are invited to participate via the live chat. Join the dialogue!
The Secretary's Town Hall: Bios
Antony J. Blinken is the 71st U.S. Secretary of State. He was nominated by President Biden on November 23, 2020; confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 26, 2021; and sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris the following day.
Over three decades and three presidential administrations, Mr. Blinken has helped shape U.S. foreign policy to ensure it protects U.S. interests and delivers results for the American people. He served as deputy secretary of state for President Barack Obama from 2015 to 2017, and before that, as President Obama’s principal deputy national security advisor. In that role, Mr. Blinken chaired the interagency deputies committee, the main forum for hammering out the administration’s foreign policy.
During the first term of the Obama Administration, Mr. Blinken was national security advisor to then-Vice President Joe Biden. This was the continuation of a long professional relationship that stretched back to 2002, when Mr. Blinken began his six-year stint as Democratic staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Then-Senator Biden was the chair of that committee from 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2009.
During the Clinton Administration, Mr. Blinken served as a member of the National Security Council staff, including two years as the senior director for European affairs, the president’s principal advisor on the countries of Europe, the European Union, and NATO. He also spent four years as President Clinton’s chief foreign policy speechwriter, and he led the NSC’s strategic planning team.
Mr. Blinken’s public service began at the State Department. From 1993 to 1994, he was a special assistant in what was then called the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs. Now he is proud to lead the department where he got his start in government nearly 30 years ago.
Outside of government, Mr. Blinken has worked in the private sector, civil society, and journalism. He was a founder of WestExec Advisors, an international strategic consulting firm focused on geopolitics and national security. He was a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2001 and 2002. Before joining government, Mr. Blinken practiced law in New York and Paris. He was also a reporter for The New Republic magazine and is the author of Ally Versus Ally: America, Europe and the Siberian Pipeline Crisis (Praeger, 1987).
Mr. Blinken attended grade school and high school in Paris, where he received a French Baccalaureat degree with high honors. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Columbia Law School. He and his wife Evan Ryan have two children.
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resource Brian P. McKeon was sworn in on March 19, 2021. For over a year, Deputy Secretary McKeon has led the State Department’s implementation of Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities.
Prior to assuming his position as Deputy Secretary, McKeon was a senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, DC. McKeon served in several national security positions in the Obama-Biden Administration. At the Department of Defense, he served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Policy and concurrently as acting Under Secretary for the final seven months of the administration. In the White House, he served as Deputy Assistant to the President, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council, as well as Deputy National Security Adviser to then-Vice President Biden.
McKeon also served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Senate, including 12 years as chief counsel to the Democratic members of the Committee on Foreign Relations and concurrently as deputy staff director for two years.
McKeon received a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. He was twice awarded the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
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.