Innovation Matters for PD: Meet Our Inaugural Awardees

In Spring 2020, CPD, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, announced the annual Public Diplomacy Innovation Prize to recognize programs and practices that create innovative and scalable solutions to vital challenges in contemporary public diplomacy.

On October 26, CPD announced the recipients of the inaugural prize at a special award event at the University of Southern California.

Gretchen M. Franke and Chad D. Houghton, both mid-career members of the U.S. Foreign Service, were selected by a distinguished committee of leaders in public diplomacy, technology, the arts and academia who identified the diplomats’ exceptional innovation and creativity in implementing a public diplomacy program focusing on countering disinformation in Poland. The Prize attracted two dozen submissions representing work by U.S. public diplomacy officers.

Franke and Houghton demonstrated innovative use of data and technology to create a customized disinformation solution. The tool and approach can be adapted for any country’s media market and policy issues for broader impact.

“Digital technology provides a key capacity for public diplomacy to grow and expand,” said Dr. Jay Wang, CPD director. “Pursuing new approaches and daring experimentations is essential to advancing the practice. Through programs such as this Prize, we are very proud of playing a role in building the field of public diplomacy into a strong and sustainable aspect of international affairs.”

The Public Diplomacy Innovation Prize is designed to promote public diplomacy as a critical tool for foreign policy and international relations within the U.S. Department of State and beyond. Each year it is awarded to a mid-career U.S. Public Diplomacy Officer. In recognizing emerging leaders in this space, we hope to inspire newer entrants to the foreign service to develop and implement cutting-edge strategies and practices to promote U.S. interests abroad and improve global cooperation. Award recipients are selected by a committee comprising leading practitioners and experts in public diplomacy and other related fields including technology and creative sectors, and academic faculty.

This online award event launches a week-long residency at the University of Southern California, where recipients will engage with students, scholars and members of the broader community in the global city of Los Angeles.




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