The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

40 APRIL 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL The State Department Reception Centers and Foreign Press Centers have played an important role in engaging the American public in U.S. diplomacy. This map shows where they were and when. Washington Reception Sta o ce was created to meet and assist Department of State international visitors at the airport. In a 1962 memorandum titled “Future Role of Reception Centers,” the Bureau of Educational and Cultural A airs examined expanding the reception centers into “State Department eld o ces” with regional geographic responsibility, as well as adding an additional ve centers. It was the heyday of diplomatic and domestic engagement, with passage of the Fulbright-Hays Act that authorized the operation of the reception centers and the launch of USAID and the Peace Corps. In 1963 the State Department established a two-person (FSO and o ce management specialist) Cultural A airs O ce in Los Angeles, which operated for almost ve years to better engage the creative community there and advise on international visitor support in Southern California. At the time, international visitors were being managed by the World A airs Council of Los Angeles and the Center for International Visitors at the University of Southern California. But relations between the two were fraught, and there was a general consensus that opportunities were being missed, leading both the chancellor of UCLA (in 1961) and the mayor of Los Angeles (in 1966) to request State to open an o cial reception center. But it never happened. ough the budgetary challenges that began to emerge in the mid-1960s undercut e orts to expand what was arguably an e ective program—proposed centers in Boston, Denver, and Chicago were never opened—the existing reception centers continued to operate. eir role in engaging the American public was signi cant. “A Field Oce of the Department” More than 30 candidates applied for the 1977 San Francisco opening. In the position description (see page 39) ECA Assistant Secretary Du ey described the center as “a eld o ce of the [State] Department, similar to a consulate or consulate general overseas,” and as far as supervision was concerned: “ e relationship with the bureau is similar to that of a principal o cer of a consulate to the embassy.” ECA Deputy Assistant Secretary Jacob Canter described the position of the director of the Miami Reception Center in 1966 as an “ex o cio member of a variety of local organizations concerned with the reception of visitors … on a rst name basis with almost anyone of consequence in the Greater Miami area.” Long before public-private partnership was so named, Canter noted that the State Department had recognized the value of a strong o cer in Miami for “obtaining from the institutions and outstanding individuals in the area extensive services for these foreign visitors at no cost to the government.” Director of the New York Reception Center Elaine Heifetz