Posted: 6:30 pm PT
A day after he was sworn in as the 69th Secretary of State, Secretary Tillerson walked into Foggy Bottom with his wife, Renda, and gave his welcome remarks to an anxious group of employees in DC and worldwide. He started his talk with a spark of humor saying, “We apologize for being late. It seemed that this year’s prayer breakfast, people felt the need to pray a little longer.” Except for one exception, Secretary Tillerson did not make any direct reference to the widely reported dissent from our diplomats but did say, “Each of us is entitled to the expression of our political beliefs, but we cannot let our personal convictions overwhelm our ability to work as one team.” He declared that “Change for the sake of change can be counterproductive, and that will never be my approach.” He went on to cite a few core principles that he asked to adopt in Foggy Bottom: accountability, honesty, and respect. Secretary Tillerson said, “What I ask of you and what I demand of myself – I will embrace accountability, honesty, and respect no less than anyone.”
In possible reference to the leaked Dissent Channel memo, he said, “Let us extend respect to each other, especially when we may disagree.” The full transcript of his remarks is here.
The reception appears warm and Secretary Tillerson’s speech was both reassuring and encouraging.
One Foggy Bottom nightingale gave the welcome remarks an A+.
An unnamed foreign service officer attending the event described Tillerson’s remarks to VOA as sincerely communicating “a genuine concern for the well-being of all members of the State Department team.”
People appreciate his stop at the Memorial Wall where 248 individuals are memorialized for heroic service and for perishing in the line of duty.
Secretary Tillerson has no prior government service but some folks we know liked what they’ve seen and heard so far. We’re guessing that all are hopeful that the new secretary of state remain interested and engaged in the building and its people — contrary to some of his predecessors — oops … did we say that out loud?!
Good luck Foggy Bottom with your new captain, keep the four leaf clover in your pocket.