Friday, August 31, 2012

Priya Guha: The Changing Face of the Diplomat

Traditionally, foreign representatives have fit a particular mold and seemingly come from similar backgrounds. This pattern is changing and opportunities for foreign service is widening as the face of the foreign diplomat diversifies. We heard about this last week, when Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, the Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S., shared his story with us. During his lecture, he told us  that his first job in the U.S. was as the janitor in the embassy where he would one day work as ambassador, but then he didn’t think it was possible. At that time, Indonesian ambassadors were required to have military rank, something Dr. Djalal lacked. However, because the opportunities and requirements changed, Dr. Djalal was able to rise to the position of ambassador.

Similarly, though perhaps less explicitly, the face of representation from the UK has conformed to a certain idea of the traditional diplomat. In an increasingly diverse world, however, this is changing. Priya Guha was appointed as the first woman Consul General of San Francisco in August 2011, changing the face of traditional British representation. Guha is also half Indian; she represents both the multi-generational British citizen as well as the second-generation daughter of an immigrant. Guha, on several different levels, knows what it means to be a diplomat representing a diverse society and personal background. 

From 2007 to 2011 Guha served as First Secretary for Political and Bilateral Affairs, leading on Indian politics and the UK-India bilateral relationship. As the Consul General in San Francisco, she represents the British government’s foreign policy interests in several states including northern California, Washington,Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Alaska.

Priya Guha will be speaking on Friday, September 7th at noon at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel. Price for lunch if paid in advance is $23 for members, $26 for non-members. If paid at the door, lunch is $26 for members, $30 for non-members. You can register through our website: