PRESS RELEASE: Announcing the DiplomacyRISE Initiative


April 16, 2021

Washington, D.C. – Meridian International Center is investing in the future of diplomacy by developing the next generation of American leaders in international affairs through DiplomacyRISE, a new initiative launched at the Meridian Diplomacy Forum on The Path Forward: Strengthening American Statecraft on April 16, 2021.

Diplomacy Readiness, Innovation, Skill, and Equity (RISE) is an inclusive diplomatic professional development program that provides greater access to critical skills training, career guidance networks and emerging issue expertise to cultivate the next generation of U.S. diplomats that reflect America’s diversity and are equipped with 21st century statecraft skills and knowledge. This is Meridian's latest initiative out of the Center for Diplomatic Engagement, which draws on more than 60 years of close relationships with the diplomatic community to accelerate collaboration between public and private sector leaders across borders and cultures in order to address some of the greatest opportunities and obstacles facing the United States and the world.

Announced by Meridian President and COO Lee Satterfield, DiplomacyRISE is "a part of the solution to shared global challenges". Ms. Satterfield added, "To cultivate the next generation of diplomats that reflect America's diversity and 21st century statecraft. We all have a role to play and can work together to build a better world."

The global pandemic has illuminated fractures in public health systems, supply chains and security intelligence, while also bringing deep-rooted issues like systemic racism and economic injustices into sharp relief this last year. As a global society, we were forced to look in the mirror and take action to rectify the failures in order to create a more just and equitable world for all people. Meridian believes it is imperative to not only strengthen U.S. diplomatic capacity but also ensure it's reflective of the diversity our nation represents.

Through the DiplomacyRISE initiative, Meridian will strategically develop and diversify the international affairs field by working with public and private sector partners to recruit, cultivate and train global affairs professionals on contemporary critical issues, such as cyber security, climate change and public health, in order to meet the complex needs and challenges of our time. DiplomacyRISE will also provide a platform for students of diplomacy and future foreign policy leaders to develop peer and mentor networks to exchange knowledge, insights and best practices, while creating pathways for greater understanding, shared values and respect for all people and cultures.

Echoing the call for change, Diplomacy Forum speakers shared perspectives on what it will take to make our foreign policy relatable and accessible for all Americans:

Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX), who introduced bipartisan legislation to make prestigious internship opportunities at the State Department more accessible to young people of all backgrounds, contributing to ongoing efforts both to pay interns for their work and to create a more diverse pipeline of American diplomats, said:

"Funding alone cannot address structural issues facing U.S. diplomacy. We need to get back to a diplomacy-first foreign policy. We have no shortage of Americans who are ready to meet this moment. Young people today might just be the most globally minded, civically engaged and diverse generation this nation has ever seen."

Marjorie Ames, Director of Talent Acquisition at the U.S. Department of State, spoke to the importance of improving institutional culture, most recently signaled by the creation of a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer that reports directly to the Secretary of State. Leading in this new role will be Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, a vocal advocate with deep knowledge of the Department who has actively worked over her career to advance diversity, equity, inclusion and access in the foreign affairs sphere.

"The State Department's new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer is an obvious investment in diversity and inclusion issues by heightening them to the leadership level."

H.E. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former NATO Secretary General and founder of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation, keyed into the long-term investments required to build values-based leadership, which he believes the United States inspires for cultivating model global citizens and leading by examples of dignity, respect and trust.

"Democracy is much more than free elections. We use generations to build and develop our democracies, so what we do need is to focus on building a strong civic society."

As diplomacy evolves, Meridian is helping shape its future. Learn more about Meridian’s diplomacy work here. For questions about the forthcoming DiplomacyRISE initiative, please contact

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Meridian International Center is a nonpartisan, nonprofit diplomacy center that connects leaders through culture and collaboration to drive solutions for global challenges. Founded 60 years ago, Meridian has equipped thousands of leaders with the networks, insights and cultural context essential for non-partisan work on shared issues. Meridian strengthens engagement between the United States and the world through diplomacy, global leadership and culture, because we believe we are stronger together when globally engaged.

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