U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry officiates at the swearing-in ceremony for U.S. Ambassador-Designate to Libya Deborah Jones at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on June 11, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks with Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on March 13, 2013. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/03/206147.htm

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Benghazi - the attacks and the lessons learned before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C. on January 23, 2013. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2013/01/203158.htm

Deputy Secretary Burns and Deputy Secretary Nides testify before the House Committee on Foreign Relations regarding the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya in Washington, D.C. on December 20, 2012. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/s/d/2012/202307.htm

TechCamp Inspires Young People in North Africa

Young people participate in a workshop during TechCamp in Morocco, November 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Rebecca Wainess serves in the Office of the Secretary of State’s Senior Advisor for Innovation.

Three years ago at the Forum for the Future, Secretary Clinton announced the Civil Society 2.0 initiative, in Marrakech, Morocco. The program was created to help grassroots organizations around the world increase their digital literacy to share their stories, build their memberships and connect to their community of peers around the world. Today, the TechCamp program has become the cornerstone of this initiative by providing hands-on training to more than 1,200 organizations from 84 countries to date.

Three years after the launch of the Civil Society 2.0 Initiative, we returned to Morocco to host TechCamp Morocco. Focused on youths and employment, this TechCamp brought together… more »

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks at a Search for Common Ground Ceremony in honor of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens in Washington, D.C. on November 8, 2012. A text transcript can be found at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/11/200357.htm.

Common Ground Awards in Honor of the Late Ambassador Chris Stevens


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

The Carnegie Institution for Science
Washington, DC
November 8, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: This is a very moving moment to honor someone whose life and work truly exemplify the meaning of “search for common ground.” And I greatly appreciate everyone who has supported this organization and its mission over a number of years, John Marks and Susan Collin Marks, my longtime friend Ambassador George Moose, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and supporters of Search for Common Ground. I also want to congratulate all of tonight’s honorees.

It’s a special privilege and honor to have Chris’s sister Anne with us tonight. This has been for everyone a very difficult, personal ordeal. But of course, for Chris’s family, it has been so much more. They grieve and they remember. And they have shown such grace and dignity in the weeks since they were thrust into the harsh spotlight of history.

In the rush of headlines, it is easy to forget that at the center of this national tragedy was such a real person, with passion and principles, with humor and irony, with ambition and humility, with friends and colleagues and loved ones.

Chris Stevens was a son of the West. He hiked and jogged and danced his way through the hills and forests of northern California, and then he did it in Libya. He loved the cool, refreshing fog of the Bay Area, the sight of the Golden Gate, and the warm embrace of his family. But his family gave him not only roots but wings. And he shared the restless soul of the frontier. His mother liked to say that he had sand in his shoes, always moving and running and working, seeking out new challenges and adventures. And there was music in his life. The son of a cellist, he himself played the saxophone, which, of course, for me – (laughter). Friends in Jerusalem remember his passion for Palestinian songs, as he would serenade them in Arabic.

When Chris first took the Foreign Service exam in college, he was asked to compare American democracy with the freewheeling energy of jazz. One of his closest friends, Steve McDonald, remembers spending hours discussing the question, about experimentation and improvisation, about the relationship between a brilliant soloist and a band that all have to pull together to achieve harmony. Later, Steve would come to think of Chris as a jazz diplomat. That really resonates with anyone who ever worked with or knew Chris, who saw his creativity and inspiration up close.

Jazz musicians like to talk about playing the changes. Their art lies in the space between structure and spontaneity. Yes, they do master the technique, but then they begin to improvise. And that is how Chris worked. A young Foreign Service officer who was with him in Libya marveled at Chris’s appetite for history and culture. He stayed up late reading memoirs of former Libyan leaders and delighted in sharing obscure historical trivia and cracking jokes not just in Arabic but in the local dialect.

Other colleagues remember his endless patience and talent for listening, two characteristics that really are required to be a successful diplomat. As one of Chris’s friends explained recently, you develop a relationship and a personal connection, and a series of connections become a network. Many Americans, well, we start at A and work down the list to F. But A to B is not a straight line, and Chris had an instinctive feel for this, how to get things done. He understood not just the science of diplomacy but the art. He heard the music and the words. And he was committed to his mission of helping others find their own freedom.

He found a second home amidst the shifting deserts and crowded cities of the Middle East. He climbed the Atlas Mountains, he wandered through Syrian souks, he jogged through Libyan olive groves. And he had so many moments of common ground. MORE.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton comments on Benghazi during her remarks on Democratic Transitions in the Maghreb at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., October 12, 2012. [Go to http://video.state.gov for more video and text transcript.]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the United Nations Security Council session on peace and security in the Middle East, New York, NY, September 26, 2012.  You can read the Secretary’s full remarks here.

President Barack Obama comments on Ambassador Chris Stevens during his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, New York on September 25, 2012. A text transcript can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/09/25/remarks-president-un-general-assembly.