SERVICE IN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE John Roberts ’76 • Saints in Service Award
ohn Roberts’ father was an air force officer who traveled the world. In addition to souvenirs from his assignments, Roberts’ father passed on to his son a sense of wanderlust and adventure. That longing to explore the world, combined with his love of country, led Roberts to become a career foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. As a United States diplomat, Roberts’ assignments have ranged from promoting American culture in the scenic islands of the Caribbean to directing press affairs in Baghdad, where explosions killed people outside his office door. While the details of his assignments vary, all are geared toward promoting democracy, prosperity, and security around the world. “When you join the Department of State, you commit to a life of service representing the core values of the United States and working toward bigger goals than yourself,” Roberts says. “The United States is the most powerful and influential nation in the history of the world, and with that comes a certain responsibility. In the U.S., I’ll tell someone I work for the State Department, and the first question is usually, ‘which state?’ But in most places overseas, the people there know what you do and to them, you are representing the power and the influence of the United States of America. You embody what it is to be an American.” Roberts currently serves as diplomat in residence for Southeast Texas and Louisiana, a position that finds him charged with recruiting the best and the brightest applicants for Foreign Service positions. He was previously
director of the Civilian Response Corps in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO), a branch of the State Department that assists countries in crisis or emerging from violent conflicts, some of which have been ongoing for generations. Roberts’ other assignments have included serving as the public affairs officer for Barbados and the six other nations of the Eastern Caribbean; directing the Press and Cultural Affairs Offices at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; directing press and media events worldwide for Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice; and appointments in Russia and Nicaragua. He has received multiple awards and decorations for his military and State Department service. “I can’t choose a favorite assignment,” Roberts says. “Every place I’ve served has brought its own rewarding experiences. In Barbados, I was telling America’s story in a beautiful location. At the time I left Baghdad, it was the most violent place on earth, but I hated to leave because there were things I still wanted to accomplish there. There is always something more you feel you could do. And every two years, you leave your friends and colleagues. Diplomatic service is less a career than a life choice.” On a recent visit to St. Andrew’s, Roberts praised his alma mater for its global focus. “St. Andrew’s is foremost in creating a perspective of global service, and that is what my job is all about. When you engage people as individuals, you find you have things in common. Building bridges between people builds bridges between cultures and countries.”
BEING ALL THAT HE CAN BE John Roberts has logged more than 32 years of active and reserve service in the U.S. Army Special Forces. His fellow Green Berets might be surprised to learn that in addition to his skills in survival, escape, and combat, Roberts is also skilled in pirouettes, pliés, and tours jeté. As a St. Andrew’s student in the mid-1970s, Roberts danced with the Mississippi Ballet Theatre.
THE SAINTS IN SERVICE AWARD The Saints in Service Award recognizes St. Andrew’s alumni who demonstrate exceptional service to others and have made a positive difference in their community. One alumnus or alumna is recognized each year. 71
Published on May 22, 2014
Published on May 22, 2014
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