The U.S. Departments of State and Commerce have for the first time ever recognized one overseas commercial diplomacy team whose effective cooperation has advanced U.S. commercial and economic objectives. The award was presented jointly in a ceremony at the State Department on September 29 by Commerce Department Assistant Secretary Arun Kumar and State Department Assistant Secretary Charles Rivkin to a team from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Benjamin Joy Award was created to highlight and promote inter-agency collaboration and honor commercial diplomacy excellence. The winning team, led by former U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia Patricia M. Haslach, includes Deputy Chief of Mission Peter H. Vrooman, Senior Foreign Commercial Service Officer Tanya Cole, Trade and Investment Promotion Officer Gaia Self, Commercial Specialist Tewodros Tefera, and Advocacy Center Regional Manager Nnaji Campbell. The embassy’s leadership and innovation advanced U.S. business interests in Ethiopia and created a model for U.S. missions to support fair competition and increase U.S. exports in Africa.
USCIB Vice President Shaun Donnelly, a retired U.S. ambassador who has also worked recently with Commerce and State on commercial diplomacy policy under the auspices of the American Academy of Diplomacy, represented USCIB at the awards ceremony. Several leading USCIB member companies also attended.
The winner was selected from 43 nominations from U.S. embassies and consulates around the world. The award’s namesake, Benjamin Joy, was an early exemplar of U.S. commercial and economic diplomacy, appointed in 1792 by President George Washington as the first American consul and commercial agent to India. Today, there are more than 200 diplomatic outposts helping to strengthen America’s economic reach and positive economic impact.