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Changes at State Department subject of OSU Global Briefing

Monday, February 13, 2006

The new agenda for the U.S. State Department, a strategic overhaul that includes the repositioning of hundreds of American diplomats around the world, will be the topic of a lecture Thursday at Oklahoma State University by one of the department’s senior human resources officials.

Ambassador John M. O’Keefe, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources, will present, “Transformational Diplomacy,” at 3:30 p.m., Feb. 16, at OSU’s Wes Watkins Center. O’Keefe, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, headlines the first event of the OSU School of International Studies’ Global Briefing Series this year. The lecture and reception following are free and open to the public.

Transformational Diplomacy refers to plans announced Jan. 18 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the realignment of the State Department to lay diplomatic foundations required to secure freedom for all people around the globe. According to a report released by the department coinciding with Rice’s announcement, America has no formal diplomatic presence in almost 200 cities worldwide with more than one million people. The shift of department resources and personnel from the final vestiges of its Cold War posture to critical emerging areas in Africa, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere begins immediately this year with 100 current positions being moved primarily from Europe and Washington, D.C.

Rice’s ambitious vision calls for the adoption of a regional focus to address transnational challenges; localization, or moving diplomats into the field where they can help shape outcomes rather than report on them; additional skills training for diplomacy staffs to carry out multiple, complex tasks; and refinement of the collaborative process by which diplomats work with other federal agencies.  

O’Keefe headed the Office of Career Development and Assignments before assuming his current position in 2004. He served as U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2000-03, and previous posts include Moscow, Belgrade and the Philippines.

As deputy executive director of the Bureau of European Affairs, O’Keefe was deeply involved in the consolidation of U.S. presence in countries of the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. As a management counselor in Belgrade from 1989-92, he played a key role in the protection and ultimate evacuation of staff from the embassy in Belgrade, the consulate general in Zagreb and offices in Ljubljana, Podgorica, Sarajevo and Skopje.  

O’Keefe, who speaks Russian and Serbo-Croatian, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola College in Baltimore. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.  

The mission of OSU’s School of International Studies is to provide a universitywide focus to expand international opportunities in instruction, research and outreach for individuals and organizations seeking a greater understanding and involvement in international affairs. The school is part of the International Education and Outreach unit, which helps carry out the university’s mission of providing educational programs and services beyond traditional campus boundaries.  

The school coordinates academic programs and opportunities with colleges and departments throughout the OSU system. Its components include the International Bureaus, English Language Institute, Study Abroad, a Peace Corps recruiting office, Fulbright Resource Center and a Graduate Program offering a master’s degree and a certificate in international studies and the master’s International Peace Corps degree. More than 145 OSU faculty members participate in School activities.

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