The New J-1 Secretary: What You Need to Know

3 minutes

Marie Royce, nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Marie Royce, nominee for Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Updated March 23, 2018
Ms. Royce was confirmed by the Senate last night.

Calling herself a passionate champion of people-to-people exchanges, Marie Royce pledged to strengthen and improve Department of State exchange programs and work closely with Congress to support the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program (EVP).

Department of State exchange programs provide participants “real world experiences in the U.S. that foster credibility and trust,” Royce said during her confirmation hearing last Wednesday to be Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).

Responding to a question from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) – who called J-1 exchanges “an incredible program” – Royce noted that she is impressed with the strong bipartisan support for J-1 exchanges and will collaborate with Congress in a transparent way on this important public diplomacy program.

Royce’s confirmation hearing took place before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and her nomination will likely be sent to the full Senate for a vote. If confirmed as Assistant Secretary, she’ll be tasked with leading the State Department’s large suite of exchange programs, including J-1 exchanges.

Royce is an exchange alumna herself, having served as an American Council for Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegate to Hungary and Poland in 2001. “I experienced the effectiveness of these bi-partisan programs,” Royce said about her ACYPL experience. Exchanges “promote mutual understanding and cultivate long lasting relationships among the next generation of leaders.”

She served as ACYPL’s Board secretary, as well as a Board director at the Meridian International Center and the Alliance Francaise de Washington. In 2003, while serving as a faculty member at her alma mater, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Royce participated in a delegation to Russia to increase educational cooperation with Petrozavodsk State University (PetrSU), specifically in the area of tourism studies.

Royce was the recipient of an American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) “Internationalism Award” in 2013.

Royce’s resume and testimony indicate that some of her interests as Assistant Secretary could include:

  1. Women’s empowerment: Royce helped launch a mentoring program for women and minorities during her time at Procter & Gamble. She’s given multiple speeches on the topic, including at UN Summits.
  2. Engaging underrepresented communities: “Involvement of American and international participants from traditionally underrepresented groups create opportunities that are open to all,” she said at the hearing.
  3. Entrepreneurialism, mentoring, and business development: At the 2013 World Bank Athgo Forum in Washington, Royce spoke about education and technology as a means to business development and unemployment reduction around the world.
  4. Communications and technology: As an appointee to the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy, she helped develop virtual mentoring programs for women in the developing world.

Royce’s role as Assistant Secretary will allow her to use the flexibility and broad reach of ECA exchanges to push forward key diplomatic priorities. Her support of the stability and growth of J-1 exchanges will have a positive impact not just on the U.S.’ diplomacy and national security, but also on American people and communities across the country.

[Note: Royce’s husband is Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the current chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has oversight over all Department of State programs. Mr. Royce announced in January of this year that he will retire from Congress when his term expires in 2019.]

Mark Overmann Mark Overmann

After studying in France and teaching in China, Mark was hooked on cultural exchange. He's worked in the field of international education and exchange for 15 years, and is InterExchange's Vice President of External Affairs.

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