Lois Roth Award for Cultural Diplomacy

The Lois Roth Award is presented every year to a Foreign Service Officer who has made significant contributions in the field of US cultural and educational diplomacy. It honors those who exhibit cross-cultural sensitivity in all aspects of their work and show patience, wisdom and generosity in helping new colleagues—foreign and American—to pursue and develop their skills and careers. Awardees must have familiarity with areas of the world, global affairs and foreign languages, so that they can hold substantive discussion with US and foreign scholars, artists and professionals. Finally, the winners of this award exemplify Lois Roth’s personal legacy in demonstrating superior creativity and human warmth in their work with others.

The 2020 Lois Roth Award went to Cultural Affairs Officer Davida MacDonald from the U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. Davida was recognized for the “Moonshot Morocco” campaign she designed that transformed the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing into a year-long celebration and captured the imagination of thousands of Moroccans. The campaign provided STEM programming to Moroccan youth and demonstrated America’s leadership in the fields of space exploration, technology and innovation. “Moonshot Morocco” consisted of 50+ events across 24 Moroccan cities and engaged more than 15,000 STEM enthusiasts and emerging entrepreneurs in person and tens of thousands online through complementary social media content. The campaign capstone, “Moonshot Morocco Youth Festival,” attracted more than 6,000 attendees over three days and consisted of more than 100 activities, including workshops, plenaries and public events offering simultaneous programming.  Participants described the festival–the first of its kind to take place in Morocco–as one of the most inspiring events they had ever attended.


An Honorable Mention was also awarded to Cultural Affairs Officer Holly Zardus from the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo for her creation of BOLD (Bosanski Omladinski Lideri), a multi-faceted program to address the problems facing Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) by developing a new cadre of leaders. Holly marshaled a full range of public diplomacy programming, leveraged support from her network in Washington, D.C., and included the participation of the Ambassador and staff from other agencies and sections at post. She took advantage of existing exchange programs, and where those didn’t exist, she created new business-focused projects and short-term academic programs focused on civic and economic development.  BOLD has drawn interest from other posts and has the potential for becoming a regional program.

For a complete list of Lois Roth Award recipients, please consult Lois Roth Award Recipients.