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Future Leaders Engage with Ambassador Yovanovitch about Global Issues

Dec 12, 2023 By Queens University Communications

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Armenia, and Kyrgyzstan Marie Yovanovitch recently visited Queens University of Charlotte for an engaging discussion in which she shared compelling stories of the challenges and triumphs from her diplomatic career, as captured in her book, “Lessons From the Edge.”  

A distinguished U.S. Foreign Service Officer with more than three decades of experience, Ambassador Yovanovitch discussed the intricate world of international relations and the importance of maintaining a delicate balance of politics, power, and personal conviction while conducting international diplomacy. 

“It was a great honor to welcome Ambassador Yovanovitch to Queens University,” said President Dan Lugo. “Her insightful perspectives during our student-led discussion served as a compelling reminder of the importance of preparing our students as global citizens who not only value diverse cultures, but also possess the critical-thinking skills needed to navigate the international challenges of tomorrow.” 

From her early duties in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan to her pivotal role as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Yovanovitch delved into the complexities of navigating foreign governments, fostering alliances, and promoting democracy amidst corruption and political turmoil. 

“If you are interested in foreign policy, there is no better career than the U.S. Foreign Service,” she said. “You will be doing interesting work, you will be doing meaningful things, and you will be making a difference in people’s lives.”  

Ambassador Yovanovitch discussed how foreign service has evolved through the years and emphasized the importance of fostering a diverse work environment. “There is an awareness that we have today to actively go out and seek diversity because the decisions that we make in foreign policy are better when we have different points of view involved in the decision-making process,” she said.  

When asked why she finds it important to speak with students across the country, she cites two reasons. First, she wants to raise awareness about the important work of the U.S. Foreign Service. “Many people aren’t aware of what our work entails, so it’s important to explain why Americans should show their support for Foreign Service Officers who are bravely serving and defending our country.  

Ambassador Yovanovitch also aims to keep the war in Ukraine at the forefront of America’s foreign policy priorities. “Ukraine is a country where I have lived for six years. I care deeply about Ukraine, but I care more deeply about the United States,” she shared. “I think that this is a war that is important to us, and our national security and international order. It may seem like Ukraine is far away but as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, it is not charity when we support Ukraine, it’s an investment for our own national security.” 

After the discussion, attendees had the opportunity to join Ambassador Yovanovitch at an intimate reception and book signing. This event gave students and faculty a deeper look into the vital role played by the U.S. Foreign Service and the critical importance of diplomacy in preventing and managing conflict.  

“Ambassador Yovanovitch is a testament to the resilience and dedication of public servants who work tirelessly to advance America’s interests abroad,” said Dmitry Vovchuk, adjunct professor of contemporary U.S. foreign policy. “Our students have gained so much from her visit, and it is my hope that they carry these lessons with them after their time at Queens.”