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The Diplomat Debrief

June 6, 2023

Executive Producer Debora Cahn and Ambassador Beth Jones Discuss the New Series

Program Overview

On June 12 at 4:00 PM, the Department of State (DOS) will host “The Diplomat Debrief” – a fireside chat featuring Executive Producer Debora Cahn and Ambassador Beth Jones, one of the inspirations for Netflix’s new hit series. Moderated by Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs, Bill Russo, this conversation will cover the creation of the series, the fictionalized versus factual versions of the Department, and opportunities for the next generation of Kate Wylers to pursue careers in diplomacy.


Debora Cahn, Executive Producer of The Diplomat

Award-winning writer/producer Debora Cahn is the creator and showrunner of Netflix’s new drama series The Diplomat, starring Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell. Her previous credits include serving as writer and executive producer on the acclaimed Showtime series Homeland, writer and producer of FX’s much-honored limited series Fosse/Verdon, writer of the HBO film Paterno, starring Al Pacino and directed by Barry Levinson, writer and co-executive producer of Martin Scorsese’s HBO series Vinyl and writer and producer on the
hit ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. She began her career as a writer and producer on the landmark NBC drama The West Wing. Cahn was part of the writing staff that won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for The West Wing in 2003, and part of the writing staffs nominated for the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for The West Wing in 2006 and Grey’s Anatomy in 2007.

In 2005, she won the Writers Guild of America Award for Episodic Drama for The West Wing episode “The Supremes.” Cahn won a second Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Long Form Television Series for her work on Fosse/Verdon.


Bill Russo, Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs

Bill Russo serves as the Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs. Most recently, Russo served as the Deputy Communications Director for Press on the Biden-Harris campaign. Prior to the campaign, he served as the Spokesperson for President Biden’s personal office.

Mr. Russo previously served at the Department of State as Advisor to then-Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken from 2015 to 2017. Earlier in his career, Mr. Russo was Advisor to Mr. Blinken in his role as Deputy National Security Advisor at the National Security Council. He began his time in government service in the Office of then-Vice President Joe Biden in August 2011, working in multiple roles including Senior Advisor to then-National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Mr. Russo holds an M.A. in Environment, Development, and Policy from the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and an Honors B.A. in Political Science, History, and English from the University of Delaware. He is originally from Exton, PA.


Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones, U.S. Department of State (ret.)

Ambassador Beth Jones served 40 years in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her senior positions included Assistant Secretary for Europe and Eurasia, Assistant Secretary for the Near East (Acting), and U.S. Ambassador to Kazakhstan. She also worked as Principal Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Senior Advisor for Caspian Energy Diplomacy, Executive Assistant to Secretary of State Warren Christopher; and Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassies Bonn and Islamabad. Her other overseas posts were Kabul, Cairo, Amman, Baghdad and West Berlin. Beth established and led the Office of the Coordinator for Afghan Relocations and served most recently as Charge d’Affaires for the U.S. Mission in India.