Opening photo: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman discusses pressing foreign policy issues and shares her leadership insights during an interview with State Magazine Editor-in-Chief Isaac D. Pacheco in Washington, Sept. 13. Photo by Luis A. Jimenez Jr.

By Amanda McCarthy

Leading American diplomats as the Department of State’s Deputy Secretary, Wendy R. Sherman assists in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy and acts as an advisor and alter ego to the secretary of state. Differing from the role of her counterpart, the deputy secretary for management and resources, who acts as a chief operating officer for the Department, Sherman is tasked with overseeing how diplomacy advances the values and interests of the United States. 

“American diplomacy is about not only what happens out in the world, but what happens here at home,” said Sherman in reference to President Joe Biden’s vision for American diplomacy during a recent interview with State Magazine, Sept. 13.

Sherman’s previous experience as under secretary for political affairs, her multiple past roles advising top government leaders, and her background in higher education and social work prepared her to serve as the Department’s first woman deputy secretary, the nation’s number two diplomat.

“It’s sort of bizarre, quite frankly, that I’m the first woman Deputy Secretary of State,” said Sherman. “I was the first woman under secretary for political affairs. It took 2011 to get to that, it took until 2021 to get to [now]. I want to make sure in the future, we have women and men at the forefront of what we do.” 

While serving as under secretary of state for political affairs, Sherman traveled to 54 countries, strengthening democracy and confronting some of the biggest national security challenges of the time. Now as deputy secretary, Sherman emphasizes the importance of teamwork and inclusion. She shared her strong beliefs in principled, effective, and equitable public leadership during her candid discussion with State Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Isaac D. Pacheco.

During the interview, Sherman noted the Department’s recent efforts to assist in the evacuation of at-risk Afghans as an extensive collaborative undertaking. She specifically highlighted the work of the Missions in Mexico and India that helped set up call centers for the operation, and noted the importance of other posts in staffing transit hubs around the globe to help transport and welcome refugees. 

“It’s taken a lot of time and energy from everybody, not only here at the Department of State, not only in Afghanistan, but in embassies around the world,” said Sherman. 

Watch the full interview with Deputy Secretary Sherman below. 

Video produced by Media Services Division

Click for a text transcript of the interview. 

Amanda McCarthy is the multimedia editor of State Magazine. 

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