Dawn L. McCall appointed as Coordinator of IIP

Today, the State Department announced Dawn L. McCall as the Coordinator of the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) within the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. This long-awaited appointment will provide critical leadership in one of the most essential communication and engagement elements in the US Government, even if it is under-appreciated, under-staffed, under-resourced, and overly-limited in its ability to execute.

McCall is described by her former and again boss, Judith McHale as “an outstanding leader in international communications” who will “provide the IIP Bureau with vision and expertise to strengthen their important global communication and engagement activities.”

According to a source, McCall was instrumental in making Discovery Communications the international powerhouse it is today.

According to the bio provided by the Under Secretary’s office:

McCall founded International Media & Entertainment Partners, LLC in 2009.  From 1999 to 2007 McCall was President of Discovery Networks International, a division of Discovery Communications.  During her tenure as President, as the senior executive in charge of Discovery’s international business, McCall managed a staff of 1,000 professionals worldwide and expanded Discovery Networks International from a single channel operating in a handful of western European countries to a portfolio of 19 television networks and new media products, offered in 170 countries in 35 languages.

As President of Discovery’s international business, McCall also served on the company’s six-member executive committee responsible for running Discovery Communications.  As a senior executive, she sat on a number of boards overseeing joint-venture businesses with large global media organizations including the BBC, Alliance Atlantis and Liberty Media. 

Through her firm she started last year, International Media & Entertainment Partners, LLC, she focused on “helping companies build or strengthen their businesses outside their home borders.” As she notes on her website:

In the current economic climate, media companies can’t afford to leave opportunity on the table. Growth continues in many parts of the world and it’s a matter of knowing the right products, partners and sales channels to make revenue growth a reality. International Media & Entertainment Partners brings the knowledge and experience our clients need to advance their business in the international marketplace.

Hopefully she will not only build up a now-very lackluster America.gov website, but increase the overall quality and capability of IIP so it can be the communication hub for the US Government. This will require effective engagement with the rest of the department, across the interagency, including Defense, and the Congress, who, unfortunately but not surprisingly have little real knowledge of the value and purpose of IIP. Of course, the latter requires McCall getting past State’s Legislative Affairs (H). Good luck on that, you may need it.

It will be interesting to see the direction America’s Corners, libraries, etc that Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) identified as needing serious attention. Other IIP activities needing rejuvenation include the Speakers Program, which I’m told some question as outdated and ineffective, at least in its current form.

No word on when, or if, the position of Coordinator will become an Assistant Secretary. This confirmation-required position is an absolute necessity to put IIP on equal footing with what should be peer bureaus within the department, including the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, the geographic bureaus, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, among others.

McCall jumps right in and starts tomorrow, Wednesday the 28th.