Appreciations: Jake Gillespie

Part of the time when Jake Gillespie ran the USIA Fast Policy Guidance Unit in Washington, during 1985-86, I was able to watch Jake in action and learn from him. Every morning, Jake dialed into a call with the State Department's press shop to find out what the Department's principals, having, as Jake put it, "met with themselves," had decided should be the public projection of our policy at the State Department briefing that day -- and therefore the coming news headlines that evening on TV and in the following morning's newspapers. Jake was not a notetaker in these conference calls. He fought against State's natural tendency to omit the need for context in the public presentation of policy, especially controversial policies like basing intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe. Jake understood that USIA under Director Wick was a Washington policy player as never before and never after, and the tone Director Wick set let Jake be Jake in those sometimes contentious conference calls. I learned from Jake's example how to deal effectively with our State colleagues and how to coordinate policy imperatives with public diplomacy imperatives. Of course, Jake's stentorian delivery in his inimitable voice could never be matched! Special as Jake was to all of us who knew him professionally, when I discovered my uncle, who was also from Cairo, Illinois, and a doctor there, had delivered Jake as a baby, and that we could have been distant cousins, all Jake taught me became even more special. 

--Miller Crouch