The Office of Foreign Missions Welcomes Washington's Diplomatic Community

It was a formal setting for a formal affair. Close to 80 foreign chiefs of mission gathered at the Meridian House in Washington, D.C., to greet Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, for the first time as a community since he assumed the directorship of the Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) last year.

During this recent reception of Washington's diplomatic corps, Ambassador Smith announced his ongoing commitment to support the foreign diplomatic community serving in the nation’s capital and the rest of the United States. OFM is the only State Department entity that provides direct services to foreign embassies and consuls general.

Ambassador Smith delineated OFM’s key programs designed to engage and inform the diplomatic community, such as the greening initiative called Branching Out and participation in the Consular Corps College that hosts annual workshops focusing on the professional development of honorary consuls. For example, OFM hosted its fourth annual seminar on emergency preparedness at the State Department on March 10, 2016. More than 130 foreign missions heard from security experts in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, other U.S. federal agencies, and the District of Columbia. As Ambassador Smith stated in his remarks at the reception, emergency preparedness is a topic of keen interest to the diplomatic community and one that is very familiar to him as a Diplomatic Security special agent for the past three decades.

The OFM staff in the gardens of the Meridian House: (Left to right) Chris Tejirian, Murat Ozbek, Rob Miller, Cheryl Cappiello, Taushia Walker, Cliff Seagroves, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, Maria Suhr, Garry Pierrot, Alice Kim, Grace Choi, Meredith Dunn, and Christine Kwon, April 20, 2016. [State Department photo] 

Ambassador Smith also discussed one of OFM’s most recent large-scale undertakings, the opening of the Foreign Missions Center where foreign missions will be invited to establish a presence. This center will become the second chancery enclave in the District of Columbia -- the first being the International Chancery Center. An open house for the foreign mission community is scheduled for May 23, 2016.

As the evening went on, Ambassador Smith and his staff chatted with representatives from nations around the globe, from China to Costa Rica and Mauritania to Mauritius -- all in the span of one room. Despite its diversity, the group was brought together by a common goal of enhancing the role of diplomatic missions in Washington D.C. and coordination within the international community.

Costa Rican Ambassador Roman Macaya Hayes (center), and Argentinian DCM Sergio Perez Gunella (right) are pleased to meet Ambassador Smith (left), April 20, 2016. [State Department photo]

Ambassador Smith closed his remarks by saying to his chief of mission guests, “I’ve been in the Foreign Service for 28 years -- 50 percent of the time abroad. What made my assignments smoother for my family was the assistance we received from support elements within your ministries of foreign affairs. So I’m very much committed to ensuring we provide that same service to you here in the United States.” 

About the Author: Suzanne K. Whang serves as Public Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security at the U.S. Department of State. 

For more information:

Office of Foreign Missions Director, Ambassador Gentry O. Smith (at podium), addresses the diplomatic community at a reception at the Meridian House in Washington, D.C., once the home of U.S. Ambassador Irwin B. Laughlin. [State Department photo]
Posted by Suzanne K. Whang
April 29, 2016

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