By Leila Mendelovici
Embassy Yerevan established its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Council in August of 2020, with a mission to “combat bias, prejudice, and racism, as well as foster and promote diversity and inclusion at post and in our U.S. government agencies.”
In its first year, the DE&I Council made a notable impact on the Embassy Yerevan community by improving awareness of DE&I issues and promoting inclusion and diversity across the Mission. In one example, the post’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs senior law enforcement advisor—during a Mission-wide presentation on police sector reform—demonstrated how to address and overcome racism and bias in policing. In a separate talk organized by the DE&I Council, Dr. Darlene Grant, special advisor to the director of the Peace Corps in Washington, and head of the Agency’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, discussed her role in promoting DE&I issues through the ranks of the Peace Corps. In a wide-ranging panel discussion, employees from the Peace Corps, the Department of Defense, and USAID shared their immigration stories and the motivations that inspired them to work for the United States government. And in a well-attended Women’s History Month event, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Lynne Tracy spoke about overcoming challenges as she advanced professionally in the Department of State.
To promote locally employed staff participation at DE&I events, the DE&I Council partnered with local NGOs working on diversity and inclusion issues in Armenia. Notably, to mark Pride Month in June, the Council helped organize a public event on LGBTQI+ advocacy and challenges in Armenia. To mark the 31st anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July, the DE&I Council hosted a panel discussion with a local NGO representative working to improve the rights of Armenians with disabilities and Embassy Yerevan’s facility manager to discuss the rights workers and guests have in American diplomatic facilities.
Since August 2020, the DE&I Council has organized 12 virtual and in-person events, developed a DE&I Council charter, and distributed four quarterly newsletters. Following successful recruitment of several new members over the summer transfer season, Yerevan’s DE&I Council is primed to broaden its work, remaining an essential component of the Mission.
Leila Mendelovici is the office management specialist to Embassy Yerevan’s deputy chief of mission and chair of the embassy’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council.