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Harriman fellowship program honored at State Department

  • Harriman Fellows
    Harriman Fellows  Timothy Sullivan (back row, left), W&M President Emeritus, and Jennie Churchill (back row, right), great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill, pose with 14 alumni of W&M's Harriman Fellowship Program at a reception marking the 10th anniversary of the program.  Photo courtesy of WHC Insider
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More than 150 diplomats, scholars, fellowship alumni and friends of Ambassador Pamela Harriman gathered at a reception at the State Department on June 27 to honor the late ambassador and to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of the foreign service fellowship program that bears her name.

The reception was co-hosted by Ambassador Capricia Marshall, Department of State, and Timothy Sullivan, President Emeritus of the College of William & Mary.

Along with Marshall and Sullivan, speakers at the event included His Excellency Francois Marie Delattre, Ambassador of the French Republic; Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.); former Michigan Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China James Blanchard; and Jennie Churchill, who traveled from England to bring greetings.

Speaker Tom Foley, former chair of the Harriman Fellowship Advisory Board, was also in attendance, as was former Virginia Governor Charles Robb and his wife, Lynda Bird Robb.

Marshall shared the following from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was traveling: “…this fellowship remains a vital tool of diplomacy. With a myriad of challenges we face around the world, it is essential that we cultivate a new generation of young leaders who will work together to find solutions, forge peace, and foster prosperity…. Ambassador Harriman was an extraordinary woman whose dedication to public service remains an inspiration.”

“I am very proud to report that since its inception, the Harriman Program has chosen 40 fellows who represent 28 American universities, including the College of William & Mary,” President Sullivan said.

Established by a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Department of State and the College of William & Mary, the fellowships are geared toward top-flight students with a strong interest in foreign service or public service and are offered annually to three outstanding undergraduates from across the nation. Harriman Fellows spend a summer in a professional position either with the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Embassy in London, or the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

William Hayward, a rising junior at William & Mary, is the Harriman Fellow in Washington this summer.

Harriman was married to the son of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and later became U.S. Ambassador to France. Janet Howard, who recently retired as vice president of international relations for The Cola-Cola Company, served as Harriman’s chief of staff for many years. Howard was recognized by Sullivan for her stalwart work on behalf of the fellowship program and for the mentorship role she continues to play in the lives of these emerging leaders.

“They are a distinguished bunch – pursuing careers in the foreign service, in government agencies, in international business, think tanks and non-governmental agencies,” Sullivan said.

William & Mary alumni who have served as Harriman Fellows include Andrew Blasi ’10 and Allison Biggs ’06. Two other former fellows from William & Mary, Elizabeth Grimm Arsenault ’02 and Jonathan Bolls ’04, currently serve on the Harriman Advisory Board. 

Bolls is an attorney in the greater Washington metropolitan area, and Arsenault is a professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. In 2010, Arsenault returned to her alma mater for three semesters to teach courses in international relations and international security and in the W&M D.C. Summer Institutes program.

“I can truly say that the experience of working at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, with a Harriman Fellowship was an experience that changed my life’s trajectory,” said Arsenault. “It opened my eyes to the rewards of public service, enabled me to live abroad and to observe first-hand the practice of diplomacy, and fostered a deep and abiding interest in international affairs.”

The ambassador’s great interest in the Commonwealth’s higher education system led to her appointment to the Board of Visitors at William & Mary. In his remarks, Sullivan praised her public service and interest in the next generation of leaders.

“Ambassador Harriman liked to say that she was British by birth, but American by choice,” Sullivan said. “Consequently she took her civic duty to give back very seriously and took a great interest in the public affairs of Virginia where she resided and the university she loved.”

“The Harriman Fellowships are a fitting tribute to a great woman who believed deeply in the power of young people to make a better world.”