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New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council Awards Port of New Orleans Top Honor

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The Port of New Orleans will receive the 2016 Outstanding Citizen Diplomat Award from the New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council. The annual award honors community organizations dedicated to shaping U.S. foreign relations through citizen diplomacy and face-to-face meetings between professional international visitors and their American counterparts.

The awards will be presented at a reception honoring New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council members and their partners on November 15, 2016 in the Cajun Ballroom at the Audubon Zoo.

“The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans humbly accepts this recognition,” said Gary LaGrange, President and CEO of the Port of New Orleans. “Our staff strives to do their part to promote the plethora of economic and cultural opportunities the Greater New Orleans Region has to offer to visiting international dignitaries throughout the year.”

LaGrange cited the work of former Port Protocol Officer Nakeila Polk as taking the lead to broaden the Port’s diplomatic initiatives.

Each year, hundreds of international guests are sent to Louisiana through the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Throughout 2016, representatives from the Port met with visitors from around the world to discuss maritime management, port security, and other issues related to the complexities of international inter-modal transportation.

NOCDC Executive Director Susannah Coolidge said that, “the expertise and hospitality of the Port of New Orleans staff are among the reasons it is so popular with our visiting delegations.”

One visitor in 2016 noted that “there is no better way to observe the operation of any port than to see it first hand from the point-of-view of the river,” adding that, “this was an excellent session, seeing up-close the challenges currently facing one of the world’s largest deep water seaports.”

The International Visitor Leadership Program is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Through short-term visits to the United States, current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields experience the country firsthand and cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. Professional meetings reflect the participants’ professional interests and support the foreign policy goals of the United States. More than 335 current and former Heads of State, 1,500 cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished world leaders in government and the private sector are alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program. Antonio Guterres, who will take office in January as the next Secretary General of the United Nations, visited New Orleans through the program in 1978.

The New Orleans Citizen Diplomacy Council is a non-profit that arranges professional appointments for these international guests of the U.S. Department of State visiting Louisiana. NOCDC’s goal is to enhance mutual respect and communication through international exchanges and to promote the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana as important business and cultural centers.