Desk Officer, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Goldstein ’05 remembers a session of Professor Cynthia Enloe’s Comparative Politics class where the discussion centered on one topic: tomatoes.
“The basic premise was that you take what would appear to be mundane issues,” Goldstein says, “and discuss how everything is political. People’s motivations are political, whether they realize it or not.”
After graduating from Clark, she worked for Harris Bank as a privacy analyst; for a political media firm; and then moved to D.C. to be an intern for Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois. A detour to grad school — the London School of Economics and Political Science, where she earned a master’s in human rights — led to four and a half years of living in the U.K., first studying and then working for LSE’s external relations department and the Mayor of London.
But an interest in the U.S. Foreign Service had long been percolating, and Goldstein pursued and obtained her current position as desk officer for the countries of Malawi and Botswana.
Goldstein is “a communication linchpin” connecting the U.S. embassies in Botswana and Malawi, those countries’ embassies in the U.S., the State Department, and other components of the federal government. She is also the Washington, D.C.-based “subject matter expert” on the political and economic climate in the two countries, and is an advocate in Washington on their behalf.
In August, Goldstein will prepare for a two-year tour in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo. Her first task? Learning French so she can properly do her job as consular chief in the U.S. Embassy. She will oversee American citizen services and visa requests, along with other consular duties.
Sometimes a Foreign Service officer’s role is more about conflict resolution, Goldstein says. “You want to get to your goal, and you have to convince people to come along with you — so you need to figure out what’s bothering them and what’s affecting them.”
Even if it’s tomatoes.