Jaclyn Schiff is the communications director for the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She blogs about global health for UN Dispatch and is the host and executive producer of Pangea, a global affairs podcast.
Schiff’s writing has also appeared on NPR, The New York Times, AllAfrica.com, Kaiser Health News, Diplomatic Courier, Devex, The Huffington Post, and Women’s eNews. In addition, she was selected to participate in an International Reporting Project global health reporting trip to Zambia.
As a media consultant, Schiff has provided services for George Washington University, United Press International and the United Nations Foundation, among others. In 2012, she served as social media lead for the inaugural #GivingTuesday.
Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past positions.
As a journalist and communicator, I have focused on bringing awareness to global health and development, which have the potential to play a transformative role in U.S. diplomacy. For more than five years, I have covered trends and significant events affecting the health of people around the world for Kaiser Health News, NPR, UN Dispatch, Humanosphere, and the Diplomatic Courier. By highlighting the stories of key figures in global health and writing about important developments, I try to spur conversation on these issues and bring nuance to the discussion. These days, I am doing that through my global affairs podcast Pangea.
What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
Last year as a consultant, I had the good fortune of being the social media lead for the first ever #GivingTuesday, a multi-partner effort to expand the end-of-year charitable season. This was an incredible way to highlight American generosity for the rest of the world. Working with the UN Foundation, the 92nd Street Y, and others, we helped recruit more than 2,500 partners for the first #GivingTuesday, and online donations for that day increased 53 percent compared with the previous year. The campaign received extensive media coverage—and was covered on the White House blog. We generated so much buzz that people in other countries were asking how they could put together similar national giving projects.
What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
It is clear that online tools have enabled small groups and individual citizens to take on governments and make their voices heard in unprecedented ways. And we are just at the tip of the iceberg—the Arab Spring was only the beginning. New communication tools will help non-traditional leaders—at all levels—emerge around the world. It has always helped if a leader has good communication skills and can provide inspiration. Now those qualities are necessary. Our leaders in the future will be the people who are best at building community and directing movements.
What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy? What leadership traits are needed for this?
Crafting foreign policy requires accurate news and information. To that end, we—in the U.S. and other countries where traditional media business models are waning—must find a way to fund international investigative journalism. While it is thrilling to see that outlets devoted to international news coverage can flourish online, we have yet to find a way to support sustained non-crisis reporting. These stories are important, and in an increasingly interdependent world, they must be told. To achieve this, we need leaders committed to solving this issue to think creatively and entrepreneurially. The best solutions are yet to come.
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