By Tom Brannan
Seeking to diversify the talent pipeline leading to careers in the Department of State, DACOR—a Washington-based organization of foreign affairs professionals—and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in September. This MOU was signed to create a pilot partnership that will provide DACOR mentors for undergraduate students enrolled in global studies courses at the university, one of the nation’s 51 public, historically Black colleges and universities.
“We believe this partnership will attract increasing numbers of global studies students who will go on to have fulfilling and spectacular careers at [the Department] and other U.S. government agencies operating internationally,” said DACOR President James Dandridge II.
The first year of the three-year pilot program will enroll up to 12 students, with preference given to those committed to completing the global studies curriculum.
Ambassador Gina Abercrombe-Winstanley, the Department’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, spoke at the signing ceremony, Sept. 10, endorsing the mentoring program and noting the importance of a mentor early in her own career. She was joined by Ambassador Kenneth Merten, now-chargé d’affaires at Embassy Port au Prince, Continuity Counselor Bernadette Cole-Byrd, and Yolonda Kerney, diplomat-in-residence for the D.C. Metro area.
In remarks at the signing ceremony, Dandridge was joined by Ronald Mason Jr., the president of UDC, who praised the expansion of career opportunities in the international arena via the mentoring partnership.
Dandridge, who serves as the 33rd president of DACOR, called the agreement a “historic conjunction” between a university that was founded nearly 170 years ago to educate the daughters of enslaved people, and DACOR—a “forward-looking organization chartered in Washington nearly 70 years ago, at a time when the Foreign Service was distinguished by the ‘pale, male and yale’ pedigree of its membership.”
Tom Brannan is chair of DACOR’s Public Outreach Committee.