Ensuring the security of Americans in Portugal, deepening economic ties and working together to solve common existential challenges – highlighting “any major challenge posed by the People’s Republic of China to our national security” and “Russia’s destabilizing activities.” These were the three priorities identified by Randy Charno-Levine at her Senate hearing and which secured her confirmation as US Ambassador to Portugal. Philanthropist and cultural diplomat, who until recently served as commissioner and member of the Executive Committee for Special Projects at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, will soon arrive in Lisbon to become the second woman to lead the diplomatic representation of the United States. capital. With this choice, President Joe Biden is following in Lisbon’s tradition of appointing a presidential ambassador rather than a career diplomat.
Presented by the White House as a “defender of the arts and leader of cultural diplomacy,” Levine succeeds George Glass, the ambassador-designate by Donald Trump who left the embassy after the Republican president’s departure in January 2021. Chargé d’Affairs Christine Kane performs the highest US diplomatic posts in Portugal. And it’s a very feminine embassy that Levine will now join. Even if she is the second woman to hold this position, after Elizabeth Bagley, who between 1994 and 1997 was the US ambassador to Portugal under Bill Clinton.
Emphasizing the role of the family, from Grandfather Joe, who left Poland at the beginning of the twentieth century and settled in Brooklyn, a New York borough where his father, Eddie Charnow, had a pharmacy, through his husband Jeff – president and founder of the construction firm Douglaston Development and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jewish National Fund – UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – And his children, Ben, Jessica and Dara, as well as their spouses, not forgetting his grandchildren, Ellie and Orly, reassured his Senate hearing that he would do everything he could “to serve our great country and lead the mission of the United States to one of our most trusted partners.” Members of the Levins family, who according to US media split their time between Manhattan, Washington and Arizona, were important funders of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
The new ambassador stressed the long-standing relationship between the two countries, recalling that Portugal “has been a strong partner of the United States for more than 200 years and was among the first countries to recognize the independence of the United States.” Levin also does not forget the fact that the US Consulate in the Azores is the oldest in the world in continuous operation. It is also headed by a woman – Consul Catherine Hammond, who said in July 2020, on the 225th anniversary of the opening of this diplomatic representation, in an interview with DN: “I never stopped to think about how, when I opened this consulate to me the first time, Thomas Jefferson was Minister Our State Department, and George Washington was president.”
Place was roughly John Quincy Adams
Now, Randy Charno-Levine is also coming in to occupy a place that was on the verge of becoming the future President of the United States. In fact, John Quincy Adams was appointed by George Washington in 1796 to work at the embassy in Lisbon. But if his photo appeared in the gallery of former ambassadors, then the person who later became the sixth president of the USA did not serve in Portugal. When he was chosen as ambassador—at the time, he called himself a minister—his father, John Adams, had been elected president. It was the second in the history of the Republic after George Washington. Instead of traveling to Lisbon, young Adams, then 30, received a letter from his father asking him to wait for further instructions. In November 1797, he was appointed ambassador to Prussia and left for Berlin, where he spent four years. Luisa, Quincy Adams’ English wife, had already shipped furniture, books, and clothes to Lisbon, but the problem was resolved.
Perhaps when reflecting on this shared history, Levin also reminded in the Senate that the partnership between Portugal and the United States is “built on shared values: a commitment to human rights, democracy and the rule of law.” And he did not fail to point out that Portugal, as a founding member of NATO, is “essential in strengthening our transatlantic relations and in defending against evil influences in the region.” The new ambassador highlighted Portugal’s commitment to sending troops abroad within the scope of NATO, European Union or United Nations missions. I cannot fail to mention the Lajes base, an “important site for peace and security across the Atlantic.”
A graduate of the University of Missouri Columbia in Journalism as a commissioner for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Levine helped organize and expand the museum’s permanent collection, chaired the 2019 Portrait of the Nation Gala, and revitalized the museum’s business partnerships program. She was also Director of the Meridian International Center, also in the Federal District, chaired the Meridian Center for Cultural Diplomacy, and led international exchange programs, as well as exhibition development, and strategic and business partnerships. She was also a curator of the New York Museum and a member of the Artemis Council, where she supported diversity and equality for women in the arts.
The legacy of Frank Carlucci
David Humphreys was the first United States ambassador to Portugal, an officer distinguished in the War of Independence and presented his credentials in Lisbon in 1791. But Frank Carlucci was the most prominent name in the long list of names to serve in Portugal. Carlucci, appointed by Gerald Ford, arrived in Portugal in January 1975, in the midst of a revolutionary period. That hot summer, Carlucci, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, developed what he called “strategic collusion” with Mario Soares, working together to stop the Communists and keep Portugal in the Western alliance. In 2019, Ambassador George Glass decided to rename the official residence of the US ambassadors in Lisbon to Casa Carlucci. The return to Lisbon of Marcia Carlucci, the widow of Kahn, after his return to the United States, was organized by Secretary of Defense Ronald Reagan. Sentimental, she told how in those years she had traveled in Portugal in a Fiat and told her husband what she had seen and heard while meeting with politicians, military personnel and also figures of the Catholic Church, to understand how Portuguese. Society was developing. And above all, helping the moderate left to assert itself, because it realized that this was the only option at that time, in a country that had recently emerged from the dictatorship of the right.
In recent years, one of the most popular media ambassadors has been Robert Sherman, whose videos in support of the Portuguese team at Euro 2016 made him known to almost all Portuguese people. A Boston attorney appointed by Barack Obama even saw the team show him a shirt bearing all the players’ signatures – the one he wore next to First Lady Jill Biden, during her visit to Lisbon seven years ago. In early 2021, the day after Joe Biden became president, Sherman shared a photo of that moment on Facebook, and days later admitted to DN that he missed Portugal. “I miss people,” he said in an exchange of messages.
It was such a Sherman “legacy” that, in an interview with DN before the 2018 World Cup, George Glass, a well-known American football fan, joked about the difficulty of maintaining the kind of new tradition started by his predecessor. He said, “I don’t know if I can be an ardent fan like my predecessor, but I’m excited.”
With the World Cup in Qatar approaching, we will see if the new ambassador will follow in the footsteps of her predecessors. Even being a woman of the arts. With proven experience in developing relationships with Stakeholders international institutions, promoting personal diplomacy, and developing educational, cultural, and scientific diplomacy initiatives, Levine has been a member of the Friends of the Fashion Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a member of the FACES Board of Directors at the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University and a founding member of the Top Line Council. Two years ago he published his first children’s book Princess Orlita, the Curious Princess.
The new ambassador stressed at the Senate hearing that she is keen to “work to strengthen our partnership with Portugal,” noting that “Portugal’s cooperation with Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa provides the transatlantic alliance with an opportunity to strengthen regional security and promote mutual prosperity in the South Atlantic.” .