Category Archives: News

A conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey C. Stewart

On February 25th, Dr. Jeffrey C. Stewart, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Fulbright Scholar Alumnus to Italy, joined Dr. Joanne Braxton for a virtual discussion of his most recent work, The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke (2018).

Joanne Braxton, PhD is Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Professor of the Humanities Emerita at William & Mary (W&M) and a distinguished scholar of African American Literature and Culture. She is a former Fulbright Professor (Germany, Italy, France and Spain, 2001) and the proud mother of a Fulbright daughter, Mycah (Japan, 2018).

See all the events taking place at and sign up for the Fulbright75 Newsletter!

Fulbright75 Celebrates Pathbreaking Scholar of Black American History

On February 19th, a virtual panel discussion explored the life and work of renowned historian, Dr. John Hope Franklin, a Fulbright alumnus to multiple countries and former Fulbright Board Chair. Dr. Franklin’s From Slavery to Freedom forever changed the way the American story is told by illuminating the integral role of Black Americans in the United States; a recording of this event is available now

The panelists for this event, moderated by Kalenda Eaton (Univ. of OK), were Dr. Franklin’s son, John Whittington Franklin, and Nishani Frazier (Univ. of Kansas), a 2016 Fulbrighter in Norway. As Frazier put it, “Dr. Franklin was always walking with a sense of global interaction—even when he was thinking about the ways that the United States can address its own inequities and problems when it comes to racism.”

See all the events taking place at and sign up for the Fulbright75 Newsletter!

Roth Endowment Awards for Excellence in Cultural Diplomacy

We are very pleased to present the video of the LRE Awards for Excellence in Cultural Diplomacy! The 2020 Award Ceremony of the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Diplomacy (ECA) was presented virtually on December 9, 2020. This 7-minute video is an excerpt that focuses on the Awards sponsored by the Lois Roth Endowment. Kudos to our partners in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and our sincere congratulations to all the winners!

Fulbright Impact in the Field

A virtual panel discussion on “Fulbright Impact in the Field: Strengthening International Engagement on US Campuses” took place on March 8. It was organized as part of events marking the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program, which counts 400,000 alumni from all different backgrounds.

The wide-ranging conversation involved US university presidents Ronald Crutcher, Joan Gabel, Willard Gingerich and Mark Rosenberg, and was moderated by Harris Pastides, Chairman of the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). The panelists began by describing the formative impact of their own experience as Fulbright Scholars in different countries and academic fields.

The group then moved on to describe the importance of international exchanges to their institutions and to the education of global citizens. As President Joan Gabel said of the Univ. of MN, the Fulbright Program is “sort of a spine off of which all of the other really global efforts of a big university like this” are appended and grow.

The panelists discussed funding and the role of Fulbright exchanges in their respective institutions. They then recounted the various ways in which the pandemic has affected international exchanges over the last year, as they thought through what the takeaways might be moving forward.

Asked to assess the legacy of the program after 75 years, President Willard Gingerich of Montclair State University put it well, saying that the Fulbright Program is “one of the high points of American international relations. It’s one of those policies that all of us can look to, I think, with satisfaction and pride from whatever political perspective … and say: this is something that really works.”

See all the events taking place at and sign up for the Fulbright75 Newsletter!

Gill Jacot Guillarmod Career Achievement Award

We are excited to announce our new Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Career Achievement Award! 

Since 2011, the Roth Endowment Awards for Excellence in Cultural Diplomacy have been given in partnership with, and at the Annual Awards Ceremony of the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. One such award was established in 2013 to honor the achievements of Gill Jacot-Guillarmod, who worked as a Senior Cultural Assistant in South Africa for thirty years, displaying great political sensitivity and personal courage to program hundreds of Fulbright and other exchange grantees and to guide her country through its dark times of apartheid. The award recognizes locally-engaged staff members who have made significant contributions to educational and cultural diplomacy objectives shared by the U.S. and their host country.

Over the years, the number of deserving individuals nominated for the Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award increased steadily, attesting to the important need—felt at U.S. Missions around the world—that was being met by the award. This past year, with another slate of outstanding nominees, the Roth Endowment created the new Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Career Achievement Award as a means to recognize outstanding local staff nearing the end of their careers, while at the same time honing the original Gill Award to inspire and encourage nominees at the mid-career level. 

In 2020, the award was presented to four exceptional long-serving locally engaged staff members: Ali Al Ghadban, Felicity Aziz, Ivanka Ponikvar, and Helena Vagnerova. Congratulations to all of our outstanding awardees!

Danish Project Support Awardee

Congratulations to our 2020 Danish Project Support awardee James Budinich!

Under a Fulbright grant with the American Scandinavian Foundation, James will work with the Royal Danish Academy of Music to conduct research on the Danish composer Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen and the Danish New Simplicity movement during the 1960s.  He will also develop a composition for vocalist and chamber ensemble based on the work “Third-Millennium Heart” by Danish poet Ursula Andkjær Olsen. James hopes his research on the New Simplicity movement will build a bridge to new audiences through accessible compositions in which every listener, regardless of musical experience, can discover their own understanding and appreciation.

Here’s an example of James’ work, a piece composed for string quartet titled “Lines, Breaks, and Spaces” which reinterprets the poetic and visual concepts of drawn lines, lines of poetry, breaks between verses and negative space:

MLA Roth Award Recipients Announced!

Congratulations to the 2021 awardees for our MLA-Roth Translation Award, which were announced in a virtual ceremony held by the Modern Language Association on January 9th, 2021!

The 2021 award went to Robert and Elizabeth Chandler for their translation from the Russian of Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad. Set in Russia in the midst of WWII, the novel follows the Shaposhnikov family as they grapple with the nearing German invasion, providing an intimate portrait of humanity in the face of disaster. According to the Modern Language Association, “Robert Chandler and Elizabeth Chandler’s historical understanding and archival research made it possible to produce a book that salvages the novel from the fate of its mangled original, censored in the process of writing, editing, and production.” The Chandlers’ translation makes Grossman’s masterpiece available to English language readers for the first time.

This year, the jury also awarded two honorable mentions. The first went to Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps for their translation from the Ukranian of Serhiy Zhadan’s What We Live For, What We Die For: Selected Poems by Serhiy Zhadan. The collection includes selected works detailing the haunting realities of life in war-torn Ukraine from seven of Zhadan’s previous publications, released between 2001 and 2015. According to Dzvinia Orlowsky of the Solstice Literary Magazine, “These eloquent translations read as if the poems were conceived in English. Every poem transports readers to an authentic, emotional destination.” Tkacz and Phipps have been collaborating since 1989, and are codirectors of the Yara Arts Group in New York.

The second honorable mention was awarded to Jonathan Wright for his translation from the Arabic of Sinan Antoon’s fourth novel, The Book of Collateral Damage. The novel follows Nameer, an Iraqi scholar studying in the United States, as he attempts to document and come to terms with the devastating aftermath of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Based on Antoon’s own experiences in witnessing the destruction when returning to his hometown of Bhagdad after the invasion, the novel offers important commentary on both the human and environmental costs of war. Wright is a celebrated British journalist and literary translator, specializing in Arabic translation.

2020 Cultural Diplomacy Awards

We are excited to announce the recipients of our 2020 Cultural Diplomacy Awards! 

The 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 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.

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. 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.

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The Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy

On January 12th, 2021, Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering gave a virtual lecture on the Influence of International Exchange Programs on Diplomacy, introduced by Dr. Richard T. Arndt, retired US diplomat and founding chair of the Lois Roth Endowment. The lecture touched upon Pickering’s own experience studying abroad in Australia, which inspired him to look towards a career in diplomacy. Pickering also spoke regarding the benefits of exchange programs in terms of building international diplomacy, and called on the US to expand its current exchange programs to encourage engagement abroad.

Ambassador Pickering dedicated more than forty years of his career to US foreign diplomacy, including as the US Ambassador to the UN, Jordan, Nigeria, El Salvador, Israel and Russia. He then served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. Following his retirement, the State Department renamed its  Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program in his honor. In 2002, The American Foreign Service Association presented Pickering with its Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award.

Roth Endowment programs are built around the core belief that international exchanges, such as those enhanced by our Project Support grants, are a type of cultural diplomacy, as they enable and encourage dialogue between people across the world, with different upbringings and experiences. This virtual lecture was organized by Dr. Manfred Phillipp of the DAAD Alumni Association; DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), which is parallel to the U.S.’s Fulbright program.

Watch a recording of the lecture below: