By Mark C. Storella
“I am convinced more than ever that all career and non-career ambassadors must take ambassadorial training before heading out to post as the president’s personal representative,” said Ambassador John J. Sullivan, former deputy secretary of state, as he stressed that ambassadorial training must be mandatory for all chief of mission candidates. “My own experience at FSI underscored for me how vital this preparation is for anyone setting out to lead an American diplomatic mission overseas.”
Sullivan completed his ambassadorial training in December at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), in preparation for his posting as the next U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation. For part of the training, Sullivan was accompanied by his wife, Grace Rodriguez.
Since 1977, career and non-career ambassador-designates have attended the Ambassadorial Seminar to help them transition successfully to their new role as the personal representative of the president of the United States. The Ambassadorial Seminar covers a full range of issues that U.S. chiefs of mission can anticipate at their posts, from developing and communicating strategic direction, to running the embassy country team, and serving as the president’s envoy to a nation or organization. The training also emphasizes the role of a chief of mission in setting the tone for our diplomatic missions abroad to support American values, empower our interagency personnel, and support resilience in the face of adversity—all to advance American national interests.
Sullivan’s training, like that of other participants in the Ambassadorial Seminar, included sessions with former ambassadors, Department leaders, and former senior military commanders.
Sullivan has been an ardent supporter of professional training at FSI throughout his tenure and has addressed many FSI classes on policy and leadership issues.
Ambassador Marcie Ries (Ret.) served as Sullivan’s mentor during his training. As she pinned an ambassadorial pin on his lapel, Sullivan said, “I am grateful for this preparation and humbled by the honor every ambassador has in representing the president and the American people on the front lines of American diplomacy.”
Ambassador Mark C. Storella is the Dean of the Leadership and Management School at the Foreign Service Institute.