Role of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Public Affairs Officer

The Public Affairs Officer (PAO) at the embassy is responsible for the success and ultimate oversight of American Spaces in the country. He or she ensures that the public affairs section is involved with the American Spaces and visit them on a regular basis, and that the rest of the embassy participates in programs. The public affairs section supports American Spaces by providing training and some funding. The PAO often is the grant officer for American Spaces, and specific to binational centers (BNCs), a PAO may sit on a board of directors to maintain and enhance the relationship. The PAO is responsible for approving all requests submitted for American Spaces funding, ensuring that American Spaces meet the public diplomacy goals and the American Spaces Standards.

Cultural Affairs Officer and Information Officer

The Cultural Affairs Officer (CAO) is often the PAO’s designate for overseeing American Spaces. Alternatively but less often, the PAO may designate the Information Officer (IO) as responsible for the American Spaces portfolio. He or she is assisted by one or more Locally Employed Staff (LES) who work directly with their American Spaces. The CAO and LES coordinate public diplomacy programs and events.

Locally Employed Staff

Locally Employed Staff (LES) who hold the American Spaces portfolio maintain regular contact with the American Spaces. They help build and nurture the relationship with the partner institution, and assist the PAO, CAO or IO in evaluating and providing oversight. LES staff often manage American Spaces grants.

The Rest of the Embassy

The support of the Chief of Mission (COM – the Ambassador or Chargé d’Affairs) is crucial to a successful relationship with the American Spaces in a country. The COM may visit for important events like anniversaries or other high-profile programs. The COM also encourages a whole-of-mission approach to participating in public engagement programs at American Spaces. For example, the economics officer may use an American Space to promote a science and technology program.

Outside Contacts

Vibrant American Spaces thrive on continued public diplomacy programming, and the embassy should take advantage of more than embassy personnel in developing such programming. Alumni of U.S. government programs, Peace Corps Volunteers and even local American ex-patriots can be speakers. They can lead book club discussions, host film nights, chair English practice sessions or even facilitate study groups for those taking U.S. online college classes.