Closing out the semester

Anne Smedinghoff

I would like to close out this semester’s blog with a note about someone I worked with who gave her life working in communication.

Anne Smedinghoff worked with me at US Embassy Kabul. She was killed in early April while managing press at a school book donation ceremony. The affects have been very tough for everyone in the embassy.

With this note, though, I don’t want to pour sadness all over her memory, but wanted to say that she believed in her work and fought to make a difference in Afghanistan and the world around her … and I think she did.

Often, we communication and public affairs types get stuck in the daily grind. Sometimes it seems like were just spinning our wheels and not making a difference as we slug throug talking points and messaging. I beg to differ though – you and I do make a difference.

Building communication between people is like building a bridge of understanding.

Ann’s death did not wipe away her memory. The State Department and her friends continue to memorialize and celebrate her life and the positive affects she had on the public affairs community. Matter of fact, tonight is “Space / Pirate Night” at the Duck and Cover bar here. It combines some of the things she loves; friends, pirates and space theme parties ; )

Also, in the community where she died, the families and children also honor her. They stand up and face threats and violence every day. They send their children to school, vote, and demand control of their lives.

Ann died too young, but her death hardened the local Afghan resolve to not allow brutality to control them.

And in that way, Ann built a bridge and it led to understanding.


About Alli

First year communications management graduate student at USC Annenberg. Former strategic communications consultant with 3+ years of experience in consulting serving Fortune 500 company clients and government leaders.
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5 Responses to Closing out the semester

  1. guia says:

    Jack – what a powerful post. I’m glad that you shared this story with the rest of the group. I think it really illustrates how powerful communication is. Although, my own work is not in an area such as Ann’s, I know that through my own craft I am influencing change in some way.

    Your story really puts my work into perspective. Given that I am fairly young in my career, there are several role models who I look to for guidance. Ann’s story is inspiring. And although she is no longer with us, I think Ann will continue to exemplify how passion and love for others can become more than a career.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. capeyton says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, Jack. Wonderful way to honor her memory, and now we can too.

  3. Sarah Harris says:

    So moving Jack, thank you for sharing!
    I’m sorry for your loss!

  4. vyoung says:

    Thank you so much for sharing and for reminding us how powerful words and effective communication really is. So sorry for your loss.

  5. crwillia says:

    Hi Jack,

    My condolences to you and your colleagues. This post is also a beautiful tribute to someone who was making a difference. The idea of diplomacy as a tool for communicating the values of life and liberty seems lost on our political leaders, who cling to ideology and dichotomy. Nothing is evil/saintly, everything has shades of grey. Your tribute reminds us all that there are people trying to help others fulfill their potential in this tragic and senseless war. The vision of Ann trying to help kids reach under such brutal circumstances is truly remarkable. Thank you for letting us, through your posts, have a glimpse into an area of the United States government that we don’t get access to often enough.

    CMGT 541