I recently had the privilege of attending the swearing-in ceremony for my friend and former New America Foundation colleague Karen Kornbluh who recently was confirmed as the new US Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice offered comments both on the personal and professional side of her relationship with Kornbluh that were remarkable in what they conveyed about Kornbluh’s impact on President Obama’s policy course.
After the comments posted above, Ambassador Rice swore Kornbluh in — and on a later occasion, I will post Karen Kornbluh’s comments and other parts of the ceremony.
Although I thought Ambassador Rice’s comments are richly textured, thoughtful and quite worth listening to in their entirety, I found this slice particularly important:
Karen [Kornbluh], however, is famous in this town for her cutting edge scholarship and her eloquent advocacy on behalf of work life balance. . . Karen works extremely hard. I mean crazy hard — but she also works “smart.”
But as the trusted policy director in President Obama’s Senate office, Karen brought together leading minds in business, technology, science, economics, energy, and foreign policy in freewheeling and insightful exchanges.
And these dialogues she organized generated the groundbreaking ideas that have truly and profoundly shaped the President’s thinking and many of his subsequent policy initiatives in the Senate, the campaign, and now in the administration.
Karen has that extraordinary combination of intellect and creativity that lets her bring these big minds and even bigger personalities together.
She gets them to check their egos at the door and work together to craft innovative solutions to complex challenges both at home or abroad
In 2008, Karen changed forever the way that major political parties write their platforms by breaking free of the stale old conference rules and reaching out directly to the American people.
As the lead author of the Democratic Party platform, she organized 1600 hearings across the country to create a truly open source approach to producing a new blueprint for America’s future.
I was proud to get to work with Karen on a portion of that platform, the foreign policy piece. I was constantly impressed, not only by her tireless energy, but by her truly visionary approach.
She got ordinary Americans involved in a process and harnessed their extraordinary ideas.
So that is Karen’s unique genius – devising her own brilliant ideas and raising up other peoples’ creativity
And it served her well — across a variety of public and private sector jobs. . .
My apologies for the lackluster sound quality. When I got to the Treaty Room of the Department of State that Friday morning, I could immediately see by who was in the room and the positive feeling in the air that the event should be recorded — and pulled out my handy “flip video” to get what I could.
Congratulations Karen and family — and thanks to Susan Rice for making this ceremony one of substance as well as honor and celebration.
— Steve Clemons