About the National Archives

Deputy Archivist’s Welcome for 11th Annual McGowan Forum on Women in Leadership: Women in Foreign Service

Good evening, I’m Debra Wall, Deputy Archivist of the United States.

Welcome to the National Archives for the 11th annual McGowan Forum on Women in Leadership!

Whether you are here in the William G. McGowan Theater or watching on YouTube, we’re glad you could join us for tonight’s discussion.

Journalist, author, and political commentator Cokie Roberts will lead tonight’s discussion with a distinguished panel of women who are leaders in American foreign service. They will share their experiences, explore critical viewpoints, and offer advice to young women entering the field.

Tonight’s program is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation with the generous support of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, and we thank them both for their continued support of our programs over the years.

Before we begin, I’d like to let you know about two programs coming up soon in this theater.

On Thursday, April 26, at 7 p.m., we will present a program connected to our current special exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam,” called “Remembering Vietnam: Medics, Corpsman, and Nurses.” The National Library of Medicine will be our partner for this panel discussion in which Vietnam veterans and historians will recount their experiences and explain the duties of medical personnel in Vietnam.

On Monday, April 30, at 10 a.m., in partnership with the Richard Nixon Foundation, we will host the Nixon Legacy Forum—“Building the Branches: How Nixon Worked with a Democratic Congress.” Nixon administration alumni will discuss how the President and his congressional relations staff governed in a combative atmosphere.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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Diplomatic and other foreign affairs records make up a large portion of the civilian records in the National Archives. Through the records of the Department of State and its related agencies, we can learn how decisions were made in Washington, DC, and how those decisions played out in the field. Those civil servants stationed in countries around the globe could be part of agencies with specific missions of development and aid, such as the Agency for International Development. Or they could be members of the Foreign Service, who aid U.S. citizens abroad and promote cultural exchanges.

Foreign service in the interest of the United States dates from our nation’s earliest days, when the Continental Congress appointed a number of envoys to try to win support for the infant nation during the Revolution. Until the 1920s no woman could serve as a diplomatic officer, but since then women have filled all levels, as our distinguished panel demonstrates.

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Now I’d like to ask Governor James Blanchard to come up to the stage. Governor Blanchard is the Chairman of the National Archives Foundation’s Board of Directors. He has previously served as the United States Ambassador to Canada from 1993 to 1996, was the 45th Governor of Michigan from 1983 to 1991, and was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan’s 18th district from 1975 to 1983. Please join me in welcoming Governor James Blanchard.


It is my pleasure to welcome our panel to the stage. Our moderator this evening is award-winning journalist and author Cokie Roberts, who—among her many accomplishments—has received the Edward R. Murrow Award and three Emmy awards, and is the author of numerous books, including Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation.

Joining her tonight are our distinguished panelists:

Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security;

Susan Rockwell Johnson, president of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training;

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Distinguished Resident Fellow in African Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University;

and Ambassador Fay Hartog-Levin, Distinguished Fellow, Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Please join me in welcoming our panel to the stage.