Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Lois Roth Endowment: fostering international cultural dialogue

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fostering international cultural dialogue
NEW:  Read our 2015 Annual Review

Dear Friend, 

As the holiday season approaches, I am glad to have this opportunity to write you about what the Lois Roth Endowment has been up to this year. Once again, we have been privileged to honor and support the work of a wide range of creative people—scholars, artists, translators and cultural diplomats—who, in their varied ways, seek to bridge the cultural, linguistic and national boundaries that divide the world. (Please see our accompanying Annual Review and website, which attempt to capture a sense of what these gifted individuals are doing.) 
You will recognize in these goals the vision of Senator J. William Fulbright—and, indeed, one of the Endowment’s explicit aims is to honor this vision. For the first time, I was thrilled to be able to attend two of the three Fulbright Legacy Lectures held in the UK in June. In his impressive and moving lectures, Jack Matlock, US Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, drew upon his extensive political experience to reflect on the importance of personal and cultural diplomacy in addressing current flash points, such as in Ukraine. In the fifth year of the lecture series, I was pleased to see that it draws such a large audience! The University of Edinburgh has opted to move it to a larger venue, and the talk at Pembroke College Oxford, where Fulbright spent four years, was standing room only. 

On another front, enthusiasm around our program honoring outstanding cultural diplomats continues to grow. Since last winter, a small working group—composed of Endowment board members and former Lois Roth Award winner Courtney Beale—has been working on ways to extend awareness of the Endowment and these awards. We met with the team developing Washington’s new U.S. Diplomacy Center, slated to open in 2016, to discuss ways in which the life and work of Lois W. Roth might contribute to planned exhibits on bi-national centers and on the integration of women into the foreign service. Julianne Johnson Paunescu, retired foreign service officer and former President ofExecutive Women @ State—the group that succeeded the Women’s Action Organization, which Lois Roth once headed—is drafting an article for publication on gender equity and promotion in today’s foreign service, which is set in direct dialogue with Lois Roth’s groundbreaking 1980 article on this topic (available on our website).

And, finally, at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), renovations to the conference room to be named for Lois W. Roth are almost complete. With such creative energy building throughout the year, it was no wonder that the annual ECA awards ceremony, at which our Awards for Excellence in Cultural Diplomacy are given, was even ore successful than last year’s. Though Lois Roth Award winner Yolonda Kerney was not able to come to Washington, we were very pleased to celebrate with Gill Jacot- Guillarmod Award winner Monica Alcalde, from Santiago, Chile, and the Washington-based Ilchman-Richardson Award winner, Lorie Nierenberg. We were also particularly glad to be joined by special guests Jennifer Oxley, Executive Director of the Fulbright Association, and Sarah Ilchman, Director of the Foreign Fulbright Program at IIE and daughter of the late Alice Ilchman, former Deputy Secretary of ECA, for whom the last award is partially named.

In Board news, the past year witnessed board members volunteering their time to continue strengthening and fine-tuning programs, partnerships and governance, while streamlining administrative expenses and workloads. More recently (and as the Endowment enters its thirtieth year!) the Executive Committee began making preparations for the Board to undertake a wide-ranging review of programs and operations and a focused assessment of strategic options in early 2016. Finally, once again we thank Shawn O’Reilly, founding partner of RBC’s award-winning Columbia Group, and his deputy Emily Ferry for their skillful stewardship of our holdings. For the fiscal year (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015), the Endowment portfolio was up 4.28%. Our equity performance of 7.08% compared favorably with the S&P 500, and our portfolio finished the fiscal year at $735,911—very close to our all time high. Since then our growth is holding up well, despite the turbulent market, and as of the end of October 2015 our balance was up to $742,274.

Please follow this link to our website to read the annual review with details on each of our awards for the July 2014-June 2015 program year.

As you know, we rely on friends like you to support the Endowment’s ability to carry on its many projects. It is your donations that help us foster international cultural dialogue on a human scale. We are grateful for your sustained interest, friendship and commitment. Please consider making an annual gift or living bequest to the Endowment to see these goals flourish over the long-term.

Warm greetings to you all in this holiday season,

Skyler J. Arndt-Briggs
Please make a contribution topromote and encourage dialogue across national, linguistic, disciplinary and cultural boundaries!
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