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Tara Sonenshine, Undersecretary, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, Undersecretary, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

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2013 Security / State Department

Tara Sonenshine, Undersecretary, Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

After decades of work in journalism and nonprofits, Sonenshine, 53, became one of the department's leading communications strategists last April; she oversees U.S. outreach around the world through educational and cultural programs. She also represents the secretary on the Broadcasting Board of Directors. "Public diplomacy is really about people-to-people engagements," she says. "And now it's moved from just presenting your narrative to really involving yourself in global conversation, as the medium and the media have expanding to include more civilians." Sonenshine got her B.A. from Tufts University, where she studied abroad at the London School of Economics. She joined ABC News two years later, spending more than a decade as an editorial producer for Nightline and World News Tonight, and winning 10 Emmys. She also wrote for Newsweek. In 1994, Sonenshine left journalism to help frame the Clinton administration's international agenda as the deputy director of communications at the National Security Council, finding ways to address the crises in the Balkans, Haiti, and Somalia. Following her stint in the White House, she went into consulting and public relations for several nongovernmental organizations, including CARE, the International Crisis Group, and the U.S. Institute of Peace. An advocate for women, young people, and animals, Sonenshine says that using new media and Internet outreach may allow the U.S. to fight extremism and injustice abroad.

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