Former Counselor of the State Department Kristie Kenney is slated to teach a one-credit course on leadership development at Georgetown in the spring 2018 semester.
Kenney held the State Department’s fifth-highest-ranking position for one year before leaving in February 2017 after the Trump administration transition. She previously served as ambassador to Ecuador, Thailand and the Philippines, the first woman to do so in the latter two countries. Her intricate knowledge of diplomacy qualified her for an appointment at Georgetown, according to SFS Senior Associate Dean Daniel Byman.
“Part of it, of course, is her intimate knowledge of the State Department, of that world and that career. Part of it is her experience as a leader in some of the most important embassies around the world,” Byman said. “And part of it is she’s just a super smart and impressive person, and completely independent of her experience, she’ll just have a lot to offer in terms of her own leadership.”
Housed in the School of Foreign Service, the course is set to be open to all students.
Kenney attributed her leadership abilities to years of experience in diplomacy, which she plans to integrate extensively into the course.
“I will bring a lot of very real experiences that I’ve seen — things I’ve experienced myself, issues where I’ve been the leader through complicated times, so I think that all of that will come into the classroom with me,” Kenney said.
“Plus, I know a lot of people around town who are leaders at various levels — more junior leaders, more senior leaders — and I’ll bring them into it too, and then combine it and hear from students and what they want to do.”
Kenney added that her belief that anybody can learn to be a leader at any point in life inspired her to focus on teaching skills that can be applied in any situation.
“So when Georgetown started talking to me about what I’d like to teach, I said, ‘Oh, I’d like to teach leadership,’ and not just looking at what makes people good leaders, but helping people build their own leadership skills,” Kenney said. “It’s very practical: What can you do every day to be a better leader, so that everyone is a leader and makes an impact throughout their careers?”
Kenney said students in her class can expect to hear from a number of guest speakers throughout the semester who will contribute their own expertise in the foreign policy arena, including people working in the federal government, international business and NGOs.
Kenney has previously spoken on women’s leadership skills, a topic she hopes to incorporate into the course.
“Leadership under challenging circumstances, managing diverse teams, is something that matters a lot to me and I hope to you. [The course covers] gender issues in leadership as well: how women can be good leaders and how men can make sure that the women who work with and for them also have the leadership skills they need,” Kenney added.
Byman said Kenney’s passion, experience and background will make her an engaging and successful professor.
“Having met her now and hearing her talk, I’m really excited about the energy she brings and really just when you meet her, it’s just — she’s got really a perfect mix of curiosity and friendliness, yet at the same time a wealth of and really a depth of knowledge about the diplomatic world,” Byman said.
Kenney said that Georgetown’s reputation for diversity and passionate students encouraged her to come to the Hilltop.
“It’s such an international university and such a diverse student body — there’s students from the United States and pretty much all over the world, so to me that’s exciting because I will hear from a lot of different student voices,” Kenney said. “Georgetown’s always really been a leader in leadership issues and foreign affairs, so I think it’s hard to find a more historically exciting and yet very current school to be at.”