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 U.S. 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 Office. (For more about Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, including a 2009 interview, please see below.)
The 2019 Gill Jacot-Guillarmod award went to Helen Reidy. As Cultural Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Consulate General in Australia over the past 27 years, Helen has inspired hundreds of Australian students to study abroad in the United States by creating specialized outreach programs for EducationUSA and increasing media coverage to make opportunities more visible. Her unwavering dedication to educating students about study in the United States led to the U.S. becoming the first-choice destination for study abroad for Australian students. Helen has created long-lasting professional relationships that will continue to strengthen the greater U.S.-Australia partnership for years to come.
In addition to this year’s winner, the selection committee also chose to recognize Marta Garcia de Bello with an Honorable Mention. Marta’s leadership as a Cultural Affairs Specialist has been crucial to maintaining diplomatic relationships in Venezuela even after the official American presence there ended. Due to Marta’s resilience in the face of these difficult circumstances, outreach activities by EducationUSA and American Spaces continue guiding current and future leaders of Venezuela to become agents of positive change.
For a complete list of winners of this award, please see our Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award Recipients.
Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, whom this award honors, served for thirty-five years 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. Read an Interview with Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, conducted by Foreign Service Officer Dan Whitman and published in his book Outsmarting Apartheid (SUNY Press, 2014).