- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday announced the resignation of Charlotte Beers, a former advertising executive who was hired by his department to improve the United States' image in the Muslim world.
Her resignation will become effective in about two weeks, officials at the State Department said.
Although Mrs. Beers has faced harsh criticism from some commentators and indicated at a Senate briefing last week that she found her job daunting, Mr. Powell said that had nothing to do with her departure.
"Charlotte Beers, a key and vital member of my team, is leaving us shortly for health reasons," he said. Mr. Powell did not elaborate, but an aide told the Associated Press that Mrs. Beers, 67, had been forced to curtail her work schedule in recent weeks because of her ailments.
Mrs. Beers, who previously worked as an advertising executive, joined the State Department in October 2001 as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. She headed the department's campaign to stanch the rising tide of anti-American feelings in Muslim countries.
Patricia Harrison, who heads the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is expected to look after Mrs. Beers' department until a new person is found, officials said.
Mrs. Beers' biography on the State Department's Web site describes her as the only executive in the advertising industry to have served as chairman of two of the top 10 worldwide agencies J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather.
"Charlotte brought incredible expertise from Madison Avenue to Foggy Bottom," Mr. Powell said. "She brought new energy, new ideas and new enthusiasm to our interaction with the public in America and throughout the world."
But at a briefing for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, Mrs. Beers hinted that she found her job selling the policies of the U.S. government to the Islamic world an uphill struggle.
"The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen, and how we are in fact seen, is frighteningly wide," Mrs. Beers told the committee.
Giving an example of the problems she faced as the Bush administration's public relations person for the Muslim world, Mrs. Beers said that recently her department produced a series of mini-documentaries about the way Muslims live in the United States.
"We had to actually pull them back from appearing too exaggerated for fear people wouldn't believe them," she said.
She also sounded frustrated when speaking of the need for the government to realize the importance of her job.
"Above all, we need an agreement in all the parts of the government that this work of engagement, of building trust and understanding, is a crucial job. It's not a job to be done on the way to something else," she said at the Senate hearing.
Mrs. Beers was also said to resent media commentary that compared her role in trying to sell the United States abroad to her prior role of selling products such as Uncle Ben's Rice.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide