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The Power of Public Diplomacy to Rebuild American Soft Power

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A conversation with Karen Richardson, former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. State Department

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Duration: 55:24


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Karen Richardson formerly served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Public Affairs at the U.S. State Department. From January 2009 to February 2014, she worked at the White House as Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. In this role, she was responsible for developing and managing domestic outreach to NGOs, advocacy organizations, and constituency groups, in close coordination with the White House National Security Staff, to promote the President’s position on a broad range of foreign policy issues. In this capacity, Richardson was also an advisor to Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on international issues, including managing Ms. Jarrett’s involvement in international gender policy development in her role as Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Richardson began working for President Obama at his Senate Office in August 2005, serving as Deputy to the Policy Director. Shortly after Obama announced his presidential run, Richardson joined the Obama for America campaign as the State Policy Director for Iowa, a role she assumed in several states throughout the presidential primary. In July 2008 Richardson became the Policy Director at the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and also joined the DNC as part of then-Senator Obama’s Congressional Liaison team. After the presidential general election, she joined the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.

Born in Washington, DC, and raised in Los Angeles, California, Richardson has a BA from Howard University, a JD from Howard University School of Law, and a Masters in International Affairs from the London School of Economics.



Kal Raustiala is a professor at UCLA School of Law and the UCLA International Institute, where he teaches in the Program on Global Studies. He has served as the Director of the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations since 2007.