During the President’s Forum event on March 6, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, a senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry, engaged in a conversation on leadership, public service and her career as a diplomat, with a panel of interviewers that included HWS President Mark D. Gearan; Ithaca Mayor and HWS Presidential Fellow Svante L. Myrick; and Kelly Mauch ’17, a public health major and advisory board member of the Centennial Center for Leadership.
The conversation, held in collaboration with The Centennial Center’s Leadership Café, offered students, faculty, staff and community members a chance to learn more about Bagley’s work in global diplomacy and her approach to leadership.
A former U.S. Ambassador to Portugal who previously worked with U.S. Secretaries of State Madeleine K. Albright and Hillary Rodham Clinton, in 2009 Bagley served as Special Representative for a new office created by Secretary Clinton – the Global Partnership Initiative. Designed to better integrate the efforts of NGO’s and businesses in development efforts, Bagley described her leadership role as: “a coordinator, a catalyst to bring everyone together, and also to get things expedited through the system.”
Bagley also addressed her work on the U.S. Diplomacy Center. Inaugurated in 1999 by Secretary Albright, the Center is nearing the final stages of fundraising and is designed to address the question, as Bagley put it: “How do you talk about the United States’ role in the world if you don’t know what a diplomat does?”
“We couldn’t have the kind of government or core values we have without these people,” Bagley said of diplomats and the importance of cross-cultural exchange and engagement, “from global health to nonproliferation to HIV/AIDS to citizen diplomacy to arts diplomacy.”
Working with Clinton and former Secretary of State Jim Baker, Bagley has been developing the Center to “advance diplomacy by telling the story of American diplomacy…and engage young people in the art of diplomacy, what it is, how it affects our lives.”
As the conversation turned from public service to leadership and back again, Bagley, Myrick, Mauch and Gearan discussed the challenges of politics and public service on the local and international level. Both Bagley and Myrick reached the conclusion that being able to recognize and prioritize one’s owns values and skills is necessary as a platform from which to lead and serve.
“As a mayor there’s a lot of things that could take your focus,” said Myrick, who previously served as a President’s Forum guest. “You could try to be everywhere at once, or you could focus on your core competencies. You could try to drill down to exactly what’s important and focus on that, use all of your energy on that.”
As for advice for young people interested in public service, “Do whatever you can to get involved,” Bagley said — from campus clubs to local volunteer opportunities to political campaigns. “Usually what happens, especially in politics and on campaigns, you’re thrown into something you never expected and you really learn leadership and develop a passion for issues.”
Bagley, whose career has been dedicated to public service, returned in January 2014 to her position as a senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary of State. She previously served in that role in 2010 until her appointment as an alternate representative of the U.S. to the 68th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in which she served in 2013.
From 2003 to 2009, Bagley served as vice chair of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, a Presidential appointment with Senate confirmation. She served as senior advisor to Albright from 1997 to 2001, a time in which she established and headed the Office of Media Programming Acquisition for the newly independent Balkan states.
From 1994 to 1997, Bagley served as the U.S. Ambassador to Portugal. Upon her departure from Portugal, Bagley received meritorious awards from the Portuguese Navy and Air Force, as well as the Grand Cross of Prince Henry the Navigator, the President of Portugal’s highest civilian commendation.
In addition, Bagley held the position of Congressional Liaison Officer in the Department of State during the Carter Administration and was special assistant to Ambassador Sol Linowitz for the Camp David Accords.
Currently, she is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, American Ireland Fund, National Park Foundation, Atlantic Council, Council of American Ambassadors, Diplomacy Center Foundation and the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Prime Minister of Ireland’s Global Irish Forum. She has served as chair of the National Advisory Board for the Democratic National Committee and chair of the Clinton Library Board of Trustees.
Bagley graduated cum laude from Regis College with a B.A. degree in French and Spanish. She is a 1987 cum laude graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center, where she earned a J.D. in international law. She is a member in good standing of the Massachusetts Bar and District of Columbia Bar. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Regis College, the Global Democracy Award from the International Women’s Democracy Center, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the 2010 Meridian International Public Diplomacy Award, and the 2013 Secretary of State’s Distinguished Honor Award.
Myrick was sworn into office in 2012 as the City of Ithaca’s youngest mayor and first mayor of color. When Myrick took office as mayor in 2012, he inherited a $3 million deficit. His first budget included a major overhaul of city government that merged departments and streamlined processes, all while delivering Ithaca’s lowest tax increase since 2000. In his first year of office, his advocacy in Albany and in Washington, D.C., resulted in more than $20 million of grants and awards from state and federal governments. By the end of Myrick’s second year in office, he had successfully closed the budget deficit. In 2014, he was appointed the HWS Presidential Fellow for Civic Engagement.
The Leadership Café, an initiative of The Centennial Center for Leadership, invites leaders to share their leadership path and experiences. The event is intended to teach the campus that leadership is not effortless or innate, but is, instead, a learning process worth examining.
The President’s Forum Series, established in the winter of 2000 by Gearan, is designed to bring a variety of speakers to campus to share their knowledge and ideas with students, faculty, and staff of the Colleges, as well as with interested community members. Recent guests include Susan Brison, Mary Matalin and James Carville, Victoria Reggie Kennedy and Michael Kimmel.