The Foreign Service Journal, April 2022

16 APRIL 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Present in the Lives of His Team At State many offices traditionally host holiday parties during the first two weeks of December. It is a welcome way to reconnect and network with colleagues and friends over food and drinks. With no advance notice, Secretary Powell appeared at one of the parties to the surprise and amazement of gathering employees. The next year, every officer brought a camera to their party; and, indeed, Powell came each year, demonstrating that a leader needs to be present in the lives of his teammembers, from senior officers to basement parking attendants. Always mindful of his celebrity, Powell would find a way to inject humor and put his audience at ease. While someone was introducing him, he would make a show of looking at his watch and use his fingers on the other hand to create an endless circular motion. This would inevitably draw a chuckle from the audience and encourage the presenter to speed up the formalities. During a retirement program one year, after Powell had completed his remarks and stood to pose for photos with each retiree, an unassuming male walked up for his turn. Thinking that the gentleman’s coat needed adjusting, Powell grabbed it, pulled on it tightly and stood shoulder to shoulder for the photo. This hilari- ous moment broke the monotony of the event, and gave the retiree a remarkable story to share with his family and friends for years to come. Regardless of his travel schedule, Pow- ell made it a priority to officiate at swear- ing-in ceremonies for U.S. ambassadors and senior principals. He made a point of thanking the families and children who sacrificed so much so that their fathers or mothers could commit to advancing our foreign affairs relationships and endeav- ors around the globe. His dynamic pres- ence at these functions created a strong sense of community, especially in light of a changing post-9/11 world. The Model of a Servant-Leader After Powell’s departure in 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insti- tuted the Colin L. Powell Fellows Program to identify promising midlevel FS officers and specialists and Civil Service employ- ees and bring them together three or four times a year for training and networking. I was fortunate to be selected in the 2006-2007 Powell Fellows cohort and could not wait for our meeting with General Powell at his office in Alexan- dria, Virginia. Sixteen years after I came to know and admire the name Powell, I, along with my cohort, now had an audi- ence with this intellectual, statesman, war hero and larger-than-life figure. More than anything else, I felt a strong sense of responsibility because of all the opportunities I had been given. In that moment, I reimagined myself as a ser- vant-leader in the Colin Powell mold. As he once said, and I paraphrase here: Find something larger than yourself, and use all your talents and abilities to advance it. This is the essence of public service. As a teenager, I would watch Donnie Simpson on Black Entertainment Televi- sion close each show with the following: “Reach for the moon; even if you miss it, you will be amongst the stars.” I submit today that following my polestar, Colin Powell, I have achieved far more than I could ever have imagined. n The 2006-2007 Powell Fellows. Front row, from left: Shelby Smith-Wilson, Catherine Rodriguez, Secretary Powell, Stacy D. Williams, Robert Rhodes. Back row, from left: Susan Raymie, Anna Mansfield, Jeffrey Collins, Aaron Jost, Jessica Davis Ba, Jody Buckneberg, Stuart Denyer, John Galbraith, Daniel Mahanty and Anish Goel. U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE