SMPA Institute Presents Inaugural Award for Leadership in Public Diplomacy to Tennessee Senator

SMPA's Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication recognizes Senator Bob Corker for his leadership.

Janet Steele and Senator Bob Corker
Sen. Bob Corker accepts the Walter Roberts Award from GW IPDGC Director Janet Steele. (Photo courtesy of Sen. Corker)
May 09, 2018


The George Washington University Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication (IPDGC) presented the inaugural Walter Roberts Award for Congressional Leadership in Public Diplomacy to Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a ceremony on Monday.

“Through my role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have had the opportunity to travel across the globe and see the positive impact that our nation has on the world,” Sen. Corker said at a ceremony in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

“No matter the challenges we may face here at home, I am always reminded that we live in the greatest country on Earth and that millions around the world strive to emulate us,” he said. “Telling that story and serving in this capacity has been an incredible privilege, and I thank George Washington University for this honor and for promoting public diplomacy that advances American interests abroad.”

Sen. Corker has visited more than 70 countries since taking office to gain a deeper understanding of the strategic relationships between the U.S. and other nations.

Once elected chair in 2015, he quickly worked to build the committee’s emerging reputation for developing bipartisan consensus on major issues and reasserting the committee’s traditional role in foreign policy.

Janet Steele, director of IPDGC, said the award was created for congressional leadership in public diplomacy to shed light on something that is invisible to many Americans.

“They may know of the Fulbright program or be aware of Voice of America, but it’s been my experience that the majority of Americans have no idea what public diplomacy even is, let alone how the programs that are carried out in their name provide direct benefits to the United States,” Dr. Steele said.

“As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Corker has been a consistent supporter of U.S. public diplomacy, recognizing the impact that U.S. leadership and diplomacy abroad can have on our own economy and national security,” she said.

The institute also announced a grant from the Walter Roberts Endowment that will support the largest women’s basketball program in Iraq in honor of legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO and John Lansing, a member of the SMPA National Council, and University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace and Security Director Sarah Hillyer also spoke at the event about the importance of American public diplomacy.

IPDGC is a leading organization in the field of public diplomacy and global communication. Based at SMPA and jointly administered out of the Elliott School of International Affairs, the institute provides a forum for faculty, students and working professionals on global issues.