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David Holmes ’97 to Receive Prestigious American Foreign Service Award for Constructive Dissent

David Holmes '97

David Holmes ’97 will receive the American Foreign Service Association’s prestigious William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent tomorrow in a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State. The award is for foreign service employees who “challenge the system from within…question the status quo and take a stand, no matter the sensitivity of the issue or the consequences of their actions.”

Named Pomona’s Inspirational Young Alumnus in 2004 in recognition of his work as a political and human rights officer with State Department, Holmes is being honored in Washington, D.C. Wednesday for his work in Afghanistan and India. During his time abroad and in Washington, Holmes recognized the need for a more strategic approach to U.S. policies in South Asia. He sought to address the roles and divisions between the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) and the Bureau of Central and South Asian Affairs, which he believed hindered U.S. diplomatic effectiveness.

Currently posted in Moscow, Holmes’ work includes human rights advocacy in Kosovo, time as a consultant to the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations, service as a long-term election observer for the Albanian parliamentary elections, and leading a NATO team in the Partnership for Peace Office in Albania.  He became a foreign service political officer for the State Department in 2002.

In 2004, Holmes encouraged Pomona graduates to “[follow] the well-trodden path of public service to leverage the influence of their own country to achieve their own ideals. Pomona graduates and their like are precisely the type of people needed in public service, and now more than ever before.”

AFSA’s dissent awards, which have been given out since 1968, are for foreign service employees who have exhibited initiative, integrity, intellectual courage and constructive dissent, take an unpopular stand, or speak out in a way that may be unpopular with officials or superiors. 

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