Special Representative Kris Balderston’s Welcoming Remarks Before the 2011 Global Diaspora Forum

View video here.

Hi, I am Kris Balderston, the Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State.

On behalf of Secretary Clinton, the State Department’s Global Partnership Initiative is thrilled to be hosting the first ever Global Diaspora Forum—an event that will bring together leaders from across America with roots from all over the world. From philanthropists and corporate executives to community leaders and athletes, these individuals are helping to build bridges of friendship and promote development in their countries of origin.

At the Forum, we look forward to participants sharing lessons learned and identifying new areas of collaboration. And, we at the Global Partnership Initiative are excited to partner with diaspora communities as we work to address pressing global challenges.

I hope that everyone will follow the Forum on May 17th and 18th at diasporaalliance.org. Also, please stay tuned for an exciting announcement from Secretary Clinton on how we plan to bring together major corporations, foundations, and diaspora organizations for the mutual interests of diplomacy and development.

The Global Diaspora Forum is an exciting endeavor for the State Department, and critical to our mission of working with all sectors to achieve our foreign policy objectives.

Thank you.


Here are three numbers worth considering: 62,000,000, 50,000,000,000, and 1.

Sixty-two million is the number of first- and second-generation diaspora communities in America. That’s just for the first two generations — almost all Americans have immigrant roots even further back.

Fifty billion is the amount (in U.S. dollars) of recorded remittances sent from the United States by diaspora communities in 2009.

And one stands for the fact that America ranks first as host of the largest number of international migrants in the world.

These are all powerful facts and assets in achieving America’s foreign affairs goals, such as advancing the economic empowerment of women and deepening people-to-people relationships through 21st century statecraft. Diaspora communities can help us communicate with and relate to communities around the world in more thoughtful and robust ways. And although diaspora engagement with home countries is sizeable, the developmental and diplomatic potential for this group remains largely untapped.

The Secretary of State recognizes the potential of diaspora communities. On March 16, 2010, she stated at the National Gala of the American Ireland Fund that “we want to begin to support them to do what the Irish-American community has done: to reach back, to make contributions, and to assist on the road to peace. So I’m delighted to announce that the State Department will help spread the model of the American Ireland Fund through a conference we will hold later this year to share best practices and smart ideas for engaging global diaspora communities.”

We’ll be doing just that on May 17, 18, and 19. The Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnerships is hosting the first ever Global Diaspora Forum in collaboration with theU.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

Diaspora communities have unique expertise, insight, and personal commitment to diplomacy and development in their countries of origin. We believe that there is great potential for partnerships between the U.S. Government and diaspora communities when it comes to international diplomacy and development efforts, which we’ll explore during the Forum.

The Secretary of State will begin by recognizing the significant contribution of diaspora communities to America’s relationships with their countries of origin or ancestry. But beyond celebrating these contributions, we are focused first and foremost on action. Diaspora communities often have the local knowledge and contacts; U.S. Government agencies have the technical expertise, global presence, and convening power. Based on these complementarities, we will be developing new diaspora-centric partnership models and undertaking new programs to encourage intra-diaspora collaboration and learning. And we are reaching out beyond the walls of the State Department through a series of events around Washington hosted by organizations, such as Appleseed, CSIS, the Hudson Institute, and the U.S. Institute of Peace, as well as a Silicon Valley inspired networking event called “Partnering with the U.S. Government and Beyond” at USAID. By the end of the Forum, we will have charted a new course for engaging diaspora in our foreign policy.


About the Author: Kris M. Balderston serves as the Special Representative for Global Partnerships at the Global Partnership Initiative within the Office of the Secretary of State. Prior to his role at the U.S. Department of State, Kris was Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s first Legislative Director in January 2001 before serving as her Deputy Chief of Staff from 2002-2009. Kris began his career with the National Governors’ Association and later ran the Massachusetts State Office for Governor Michael Dukakis from 1987-1991. He then became Senior Policy Advisor to Majority Leader George Mitchell  and he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Labor under Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Kris served in the White House from 1995-2001, as Special Assistant for Cabinet Affairs to President William Jefferson Clinton and then later as the Deputy Assistant to the President and the Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet. He holds his BA in Political Science from LeMoyne College and his MA in Government from Georgetown University.


The contents of this blog are the sole responsibility of the author and its ideas and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of International diaspora Engagement Alliance, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Migration Policy Institute, or any of their partners.