The Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award, recognizes Locally Engaged Staff (LES) members who have made outstanding contributions in educational and cultural diplomacy to objectives shared by the U.S. and the host country. With deep institutional memory and knowledge of local culture, society and politics, as well as their relation to US priorities, such staff members maintain continuity at US embassies and missions around the world, as Foreign Service Officers rotate in and out every few years, and play an important role as mentors to new colleagues and supervisors alike. As Acting Under Secretary for Public Affairs Bruce Wharton confirmed, in reference to 2015 “Gill” recipient Monica Alcalde: “The things she taught me—from process, to substance, to style—have guided me as I moved from job to job across Latin America, the U.S. and Africa. Without Monica’s patient teaching and friendship, I don’t think I would ever have made it beyond Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer.“
The award is named in honor of Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, who served for thirty-five in South Africa, spanning a period from the dark days of apartheid through to the peaceful emergence of democracy. Although it ran counter to the American democratic mission, in the 1960s and 70s the U.S. was under intense pressure from the South African government to support its state-sponsored racial segregation. Within this tense environment, Gill programmed hundreds of Fulbright and other grantees; later, with great political sensitivity, she worked to assist in South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy. She is remembered as a consummate cross-cultural communicator and bridge builder, serving on behalf of all as a mentor, counselor and committed senior colleague.
This year the Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award for a Locally Engaged Staff member went to Tilly De Groot, of the U.S. Embassy The Hague, in recognition of a long career of achievements, including: the creation of American Studies degree programs at five top universities; the establishment, staffing and programming of the John Adams Institute; and work with Dutch Muslim and immigrant communities. Two of de Groot’s programs have been showcased by the U.S. State Department as “global best practices.”
Exceptionally, an Honorable Mention was awarded to Gladys Tutisani ,of the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe, for her unusually effective programming; her persuasive exchange nominations; her ability to strategically innovate and expand cultural programming; and her willingness to jump into staffing gaps and mentor new officers. In response to her nomination, we have resolved to start offering a cash award to Honorable Mentions for the Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award.
Read an Interview with Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, conducted by Foreign Service Officer Dan Whitman and published in his book Outsmarting Apartheid (SUNY Press, 2014).
For a complete list of winners of the Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award, please see Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award Recipients.