Tag Archives: Brzezinski

One Year Later

President Barack Obama is introduced by Amb. Mark Brzezinski at an Embassy meet and greet at the Grand Hotel Stockholm in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 4, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama is introduced by Amb. Mark Brzezinski at an Embassy meet and greet at the Grand Hotel Stockholm in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 4, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)











Two months ago, I stood in the beautiful U.S. Capitol Rotunda for the inspiring ceremony to bestow the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg with a Congressional Gold Medal.  Wallenberg, by daring not to be indifferent, saved the lives of tens of thousands of Jews during World War II through a joint U.S. and Swedish government program.  The story of Raoul Wallenberg is an exceptional confirmation of the value our two countries place on protecting human dignity and upholding the principles of tolerance and inclusivity.  As President Obama noted in his remarks at Stockholm’s Synagogue one year ago,  “…we’re reminded [by Raoul Wallenberg] of our basic obligations:  to recognize ourselves in each other; to treat one another with compassion; to reach out to the less fortunate among us; to do our part to help repair our world.  These values are at the heart of the great partnership between Sweden and the United States.”

The Gold Medal Ceremony was an archetype moment of Sweden and the U.S. working together.  Today, one year after President Obama’s visit to Sweden, is a fitting time to highlight how the Swedish-American relationship has further expanded since the visit.  It is no coincidence that President Obama’s visit occurred during a period of unprecedented cooperation and alignment between our two countries. And it is no coincidence that since then the relationship between Sweden and the U.S. has only become more robust and more strategic when facing global challenges.

As President Obama said of Sweden and the U.S., “We stand up for universal human rights, not only in America and in Europe, but beyond, because we believe that when these rights are respected, nations are more successful and our world is safer and more just.”   Sweden and the U.S. collaborate on global development initiatives more closely than ever before.  Sida is the largest partner of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  Together, the development agencies jointly combat poverty in innovative ways, with a focus on agriculture, sustainable energy, and democracy.  Sweden has committed to catalyze investments of up to one billion dollars, or 6.8 billion SEK, to Power Africa, President Obama’s program to electrify Africa.  Sweden is the first country to formally join this project.  This commitment follows discussion between President Obama and Swedish stakeholders during his visit to Stockholm last September, when parties affirmed at the dinner with other Nordic Leaders their intent to support Power Africa and to promote more efficient power systems in Africa.

Around the time of President Obama’s visit to Stockholm, the crisis in Syria was in some of its darkest days.  Today, 12 months later, the suffering in Syria continues, as it does around the world from Ukraine to Iraq to Libya.  The need for the international community to stand up for the rights of others has perhaps never been so urgent.  One year ago, President Obama and Prime Minister Reinfeldt stood in agreement about the need to protect human rights and the imperative of the triumph of the rule of law.  Today, one year later, the common resolve between our two countries has never been stronger and our two countries must continue to be active and effective voices in defending dignity around the world.

While in Stockholm, President Obama also paid a visit to the Royal Institute of Technology.  There he met with researchers and viewed several innovative clean energy technologies.  Sweden and the U.S. have demonstrated a shared commitment to supporting the development of innovative technologies and cleaner energy solutions that are at the core of our strategy to address climate change and have a less carbon-dependent future.  President Obama’s Climate Action Plan has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, provided funding to advance renewable energy technology, and helped cities prepare for climate change with fortification against increasingly severe storms and droughts.  We will continue our work with Sweden and the international community to keep moving forward in this area. I believe that the best way to tackle the challenges of climate change is together, so I think it is of the utmost importance that as both countries innovate to find what works, we support exchanges of ideas and programs.

Engaging with issues related to the Arctic was a priority for President Obama during his visit to Sweden, reflecting the Arctic’s position as both a domestic and global policy priority for the U.S.  As we consider how to best preserve the region’s biodiversity while helping Arctic communities reach their fullest potential, we turn to partners like Sweden, who’s successful chairmanship of the Arctic Council is a model such engagement.   During his visit, President Obama convened with Nordic leaders last September and discussed the impacts of climate change on the Arctic.  We value the shared commitment to the Arctic and see this as the ideal foundation for achievement.  The U.S. considers Sweden to be an especially invaluable ally; we look forward to a future in which our countries collaborate to protect and to research the Arctic environment and to encourage sustainable development, keeping in mind always the indigenous communities.  It is our highest priority is to protect the Arctic – our people, our territory, our natural resources – and I am happy to say that Sweden shares this conviction.

Reflecting back on the past twelve months, it is correct to say that the partnership between the United States and Sweden could not possibly be stronger.  President Obama’s visit helped make a solid relationship even more expansive.  I am convinced that our cooperation, which is based in set of common core values and ideals, will continue to expand and flourish.

Tough Viking!

This past summer I bicycled across Sweden, from the water’s edge of Sweden’s West Coast, to the water’s edge of Sweden’s East Coast.  I did it to promote TTIP and trade, and I thought it was the physically most difficult thing I would do in my stay in Sweden – after all, one day we biked over 100 kilometers through rain and wind, and
around Örebro there were many many trucks…

Tough Viking US + Sweden









But that was until I had the pleasure of joining the US Embassy “Tough Viking” competition team this past Saturday here in Stockholm.  Now I can say categorically that was the physically most difficult undertaking I have done here in Sweden – and I loved every minute of it!!  The Tough Viking competition is a 15 kilometer obstacle course that spans the big field of Gärdet, and continues along the footpaths next to the Baltic Sea.  It involved running through burning bales of hay, climbing over ship container after ship container, crawling under barbed wire and swimming through icy swamps, jumping into barrels of ice water, climbing up huge ramps, swimming in the sea, and, of course being electrocuted at the end!

Tough Viking start









It was my absolute honor to join with a number of colleagues and family members here at the Embassy in doing this event.  To say the least, I could never have completed the event without their help and support, and I did my utmost to contribute to our US Embassy team.

Tough Viking team









We started, as a team, and we finished as a team, and there was nothing more awesome then coming in together, with a member of staff calling out cadences.

Tough Viking action II









It was a wonderful event, it was a wonderful team building exercise, it was a challenge unlike any I will probably do in my life, and it was another awesome memory that I have from our wonderful stay in Sweden.

Tough Viking action









And I cheer all my fellow Tough Vikings – from the Swedish military that participated as a team, to the police and volunteers who supported the event – to fellow challengers with whom we all share a uniquely Swedish memory!!

Tough Viking finish

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Stockholm Mini-Makers Faire

This past Sunday, I had the awesome opportunity to celebrate something special in the American-Swedish relationship:  Innovation and great science.  On Sunday afternoon, I took my four year-old daughter to the Swedish National Museum of Technology and Science (Tekniska Museet), which hosted the first ever 2014 Stockholm Mini Maker Faire.  What a terrific set of innovations and inventions, ranging from a steam-engine car developed by KTH students, to Evelyn and Javiere’s refurbished refrigerator compressor to now a paint spray gun, to a kids hackathon where my daughter and I faced off in competition in a jumping game that sent electrodes on to a screen (she won!). We also marveled over Quadrocopters, a solar and wind-driven pancake machine, a pop machine, a potato gun, and a night vision device — the spread and the imagination on display was truly phenomenal!

I hope this is the first of many Maker faires in Sweden.  What my daughter and I saw at Tekniska was a display of great ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of Swedish citizens.  One of the products on display had already been acquired by a US company, and many of the inventions have local roots but global reach.  They are suitable for scale anywhere.

The first Maker Faire was held in San Mateo, California, in 2006.  The Faire is now the largest showcase of creativity and innovation in the world.  Today, there are approximately a hundred Maker faires arranged around the world each year.  I am so glad to see the movement reach Sweden.

During President Obama’s historic visit to Sweden last year, the President had this to say about innovation: “…As two of the most innovative economies on Earth, we cherish that freedom that allows us to innovate and create, which is why we’re leaders in science and research and development — those things that pioneers new industries and broaden our horizons.”

This event is a celebration of the strong local maker culture here in Sweden.  What I saw on Sunday was a context in which people of all ages, boys and girls, men and women, through their creativity and entrepreneurship affirm that Sweden truly is “a land of Makers.”  I want to express my admiration for all of the exhibitors at Tekniska yesterday, for embodying these fine qualities that have made Sweden such a strong exporting country over the last century.  You showed us that we can expect Sweden to remain a leader in technological and scientific innovation for decades to come.

It want to emphasize the diversity of age and gender that I witnessed at this faire yesterday.   Fostering an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints is a necessary step to solving the array of global challenges.   I attended the Faire with my young daughter.  President Obama noted last year “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … that is not being encouraged…”   I was encouraged to see the representation of young women who displayed their inventions and technology.  That speaks to Sweden’s dedication to inclusiveness and equality.

I had the distinct pleasure to present the 2014 Stockholm Mini Maker Award to a Maker with an astonishing contribution to this exhibit.  This year’s Stockholm Mini Maker prize is awarded to Jonny Eriksson of Popmaskinen.  The public at the event yesterday also chose a prizewinner, and that prizewinner was Linus Backlund, who developed a night vision device that both  my daughter and I peered though.

Congratulations, and thank you Tekniska for hosting this year’s Stockholm Mini Maker Faire!


An evening on Sustainability & Social Entrepreneurship with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal”. – Thomas Jefferson

These words from a great Virginian embodied the spirit of an event we held this week for the University of Virginia Darden School of Business students in Stockholm.

Mark and I are both products of Virginia universities.  We are convinced that there’s something special between Virginia and Sweden! Both have a commitment to great universities, emphasize a harmony between humankind and the land (a genuine love and respect for the environment being a common thread), and have incredibly innovative, forward-looking business ecosystems that are also firmly rooted in a strong connectivity and respect for history and the lessons the past can imbue upon the future.

These shared values were palpable as scores of UVA students and their Swedish counterparts from the Stockholm School of Economics filled the U.S. Ambassadorial residence for an evening discussing social innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability. The event marked the kick-off for a week in Stockholm where the American students would explore and learn from the dynamic Swedish startup ecosystem while also sharing their business school expertise in growth and shared value from a U.S. perspective with our Swedish friends.

What does it take to truly start and grow a profitable and responsible business? How can you leverage the social good and make a difference while also making sure the bottom-line doesn’t suffer? Through a vibrant discussion moderated by Mark and myself, we engaged five successful Swedish entrepreneurs in getting to the bottom of the true business case for sustainability, diversity and using the platform of business leadership for meaningful social change.

Jefferson’s words exemplified the tone of the event: one of change and speaking truth to power. It exemplified the students in the room— hungry to make the world a better place through their work. They also personified our 5 panelists.  They were:
·         Sarah McPhee, CEO of Storebrand SPP,
·         Martin Lorentzon, co-founder & Chairman of the Board for Spotify,
·         Sebastian Siematowski, founder & CEO Klarna,
·         Carolina Sachs, Secretary General for Axfoundation, and
·         Ben Gorham, founder and CEO Byredo.

Each of these businesspeople has revolutionized their fields, boldly disrupting convention and acting as a change agents from within on sustainability, diversity  and inclusion, transparency and efficiency

Through a vibrant discussion, we engaged the five panelists in getting to the bottom of the true business case for sustainability, diversity of thought and using the platform of business leadership for meaningful social change.

Whether it was avoiding doing business in countries with records of corruption and human rights violations (even though it meant turning down major profits!), infusing sustainable practices into the supply chain, focusing on green bonds and investments even if they don’t provide immediate shareholder returns and simply voicing inequalities and injustices in society, these businesspeople showed all of us how “walking the walk” on core values can be good for the community, good for the board and the bottom-line, and also good for the soul!

The entire evening reminded me of one of my favorite Mahatma Gandhi quotes: “be the change you want to see.” We saw examples of this that evening and I think all of us walked out the door inspired to do the same.

Thank you our awesome panelists and Thank you the University of Virginia for joining us on such a thought-provoking initiative!


Celebrating U.S.-Swedish Business Ties: The Opening of Claire’s in Farsta!

Where did you get your ears pierced?

If you’re an American girl that came of age between the 1980s through today the likely answer is Claire’s. The accessories juggernaut has been a bedazzling utopia for young girls over the decades, and certainly was for me. I remember so vividly begging my mother to take me to Chicago Ridge Mall on the southwest side of the city to buy faux-pearl and lace chokers and fingerless black gloves so I could look cool at the 8th grade school dance (hey, it was the 1990s everyone wanted to dress like Madonna!).

All of these positive childhood memories came to the surface when I was asked to help inaugurate the first Claire’s store in Scandinavia. It was a true honor to cut the ribbon for an American company founded in 1961 in my hometown of Chicago.

The first store in Sweden is located in Farsta, about twenty minutes outside of Stockholm, and was where the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. In addition to the opening, Claire’s revealed a sleek new style. Gone were the thick black carpets and heavy décor, and in its place a lighter, more accessible space that showcased the colorful glitter, beads and sequins dotting the walls even better.

The values that underpin the concept— promoting self-confidence and pride in young girls at an affordable price for all— is compelling and egalitarian. Every little girl and teenager deserves to feel beautiful no matter who she is and where she is from, and Claire’s has helped make that happen for many years. There’s also something special about a brand that can be interwoven into a young person’s coming-of-age story. Every girl remembers when and where she got her ears pierced. And most of those girls will connect that positive experience to a positive brand.

Connecting around shared values of accessibility, transparency, empowerment and sustainability (among many others) are pillars of the U.S.-Swedish commercial relationship which has always been strong, and I’ll argue has never been stronger than it is today.

The trading relationship between our two nations is valued over $25 billion annually.  Even more striking are the figures that illustrate our relationship in business investment.  Over the years, Swedish companies have invested over $40 billion in the U.S., creating about 176,000 jobs.  In fact, Sweden is the 12th largest investor in the U.S. and among the very top investors on a per capita basis!

Business to business connectivity between the United States and Sweden is so vibrant and it’s always a pleasure when we can highlight that. Thanks Bjorn Krasse and the Claire’s Nordic team for including me in the opening! Looking forward to more occasions celebrating U.S-Swedish commercial ties!

resume 1

Diplomacy in a new Communications Era: U.S. Embassy ranked #3 “super communicator” in all of Sweden!

We now live in the most hyper-connected, global moments of history where all people have a voice and multiple platforms to share their voice and values.

Mark, I and the Embassy team are firm believers in bringing diplomacy into this new communications era. The speed and incredible reach of the Internet and social media has changed how we all interact with each other. Unparalleled amounts of new perspectives have been brought into the ongoing dialogue on how we address the challenges of our time.

Communications and public diplomacy is more important than ever before. And that’s why we were especially honored and proud to be named by Resume Magazine as Sweden’s #3 (out of 150) best communicators— “Superkommunikatörer”— in all of Sweden. In addition to the award, Mark and I were incredibly honored to be asked to present on the U.S. Embassy’s communications strategy, and how we work with the fantastic Embassy team to reach as many people as possible.

We discussed the four principles that form the foundation of our communication:

1.      The power to convene
2.       Listening, not talking
3.       Transparency
4.       Using the unexpected to highlight shared values

The two areas I covered were “the power to convene” and “listening and not talking.” Mark and I often say that our favorite thing we hear when people come to an Embassy event at our residence: “I’ve never been here before”, “I never thought I’d be invited to an Ambassador’s residence”, and best of all “I never knew what really what an Ambassador, his/her spouse and an Embassy did until now.”

Having the ability to “convene” and create a safe space where diverse people can come together and speak openly, freely without judgment on difficult issues is extremely powerful. The Embassy and I see it as our mission to reach out to as many different stakeholders as possible. Needless to say, it’s not just about us inviting people over and talking at them.

The most exciting thing about diplomacy for me is learning from each other and finding common ground on challenges ranging from sustainability to gender equality. That’s done through listening and not talking.

President Obama is a leader who presciently identified this new strain of global connectivity and has focused on inclusivity, partnership and a new role for America in the world. As President he has uplifted and engaged people and groups who have not traditionally been engaged. At the Embassy the concept of reaching out to all citizens— minorities, new immigrants, women, youth, the LGBT community— is a central priority that’s reflected in the Embassy’s “Diversity Dialogues”, Youth Councils, women’s empowerment initiatives and entrepreneurship focused on immigrant entrepreneurship. In fact, all Embassy initiatives are informed by tolerance, openness, transparency and inclusion.

Thank you Resume for recognizing our hard work! And thank you U.S. Embassy Sweden for the hard work, support, intelligent guidance and leadership on this issue! This award is for all of us!

Women in Tech 3

Spotlight on Women in Tech: Promoting Girls in Science, Engineering & Entrepreneurship

Harnessing the talents and creativity of men and women, young and old, of the gay community and all ethnic backgrounds is the key to innovation and a better world. Diversity is the bedrock for entrepreneurship and innovation, and central to “winning the future” as President Obama has said.

The inclusion of historically underrepresented minorities in science, engineering and technology fields, such as women, is a priority of the Obama Administration and a personal passion of mine.  That’s why I was so happy and honored to be included in a dynamic and thought-provoking conference organized by Sweden’s MTG in partnership with Spotify and Google.

The conference was held in the same cavernous room that the U.S. Embassy held its large election event in 2012 which brought President Barack Obama to victory! Just stepping inside and remembering the energy and inspiration from that day gave me great motivation for the panel I would speak on focusing on innovation.

Cristina Stenbeck, the incredibly articulate 36-year-old global chairman of MTG and Kinnevik, launched the conference with inspiring words on a future global vision of a digitalized, highly-integrated tech world as well as why and how her companies have been successful in vales-based leadership and gender equality. The rest of the day featured discussions by female senior leaders from Google and Spotify, as well as both male and female entrepreneurs on what works in creating a sustainable company and disrupting markets with innovation.

I’ve so enjoyed learning about Sweden’s innovative startup ecosystem and exploring ways we can amplify shared values through innovation and entrepreneurship. Learning from each other is one of the most exciting parts of diplomacy. At the Embassy, we’ve been able to bring people together to openly discuss issues such as gender equality, multiculturalism and diversity, and how we can use entrepreneurship as a tool for empowerment. This was the basis for my panel remarks at the Women in Tech 2014 conference.

Immigrants or their children have founded 40% of our country’s Fortune 500 companies including some of America’s most iconic brands like Google, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. Diversity in all forms—  in gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation— is key to continuing the thriving levels of innovation in both of our countries.

Women are breaking down barriers today in science and technology. 25% of IT jobs are held by women today and the percentage of females choosing to study science and engineering is increasing, a trend that the President is promoting through a national STEM campaign.

Having the opportunity to live and engage in Sweden has been the honor of a life-time for Mark and me. To work with such a talented U.S. Embassy team in such an innovative and country has been incredibly rewarding and we look so much forward to new and interesting collaborations with our friends the Swedes. We look so forward to advancing diversity, innovation and gender equality together with you! The best is yet to come!

Check out this video highlighting women in tech and the efforts of U.S. Embassy Sweden in innovation and diversity!


Commitment to Corporate Gender Equality: International Women’s Day 2014!

There’s no more inspiring way to celebrate International Women’s Day than bringing together passionate professionals around shared values. Open dialogue, listening and a spirited exchange of lessons learned is integral to moving the dial on diversity in the workplace and honoring the spirit of this great day dedicated to uplifting womanhood.

This is precisely what U.S. Embassy Sweden did on Friday when the deputy chief of mission, Bob Gilchrist, and I hosted a targeted dialogue for Swedish businessmen and businesswomen who are already working to make change in their companies when it comes to diversity. The positive energy in the room makes me so confident that we will reach unparalleled levels of diversity in the workplace are just on the horizon. The goal of the event was to move beyond rhetoric and words, to substantive actions and tangible results. And to help equip businesspeople with a cutting-edge new way to frame this challenge, and the metrics and models that might help solve it for good.

The focus was Edge Certification, a game-changing new methodology aimed at working with large companies to create, meet and sustain gender targets in all levels of the company. Edge certification is analogous to LEED certification on gender versus environmental aspects. Like LEED, Edge provides a globally-recognized branding that a company is embracing diversity and taking steps to be an employer that attracts and sustains top talent, and leans forward on becoming a company of the future. In order to help explain Edge, we were privileged to have two dynamic keynote speakers: Simona Scarpalegia, the CEO of IKEA Switzerland, and Maria Oldin, the managing director of Edge.

The business case for more women at the top is undeniable: more creativity and innovation, better decision-making, better bottom-lines and share-holders’ returns, and even cheaper mergers and greater transparency. Women’s economic empowerment is a priority of the U.S. Embassy and of President Obama who gave an impassioned call to action on the issue most recently in this year’s State of the Union Address.

“You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”- President Barack Obama

In Sweden we have an enthusiastic and accomplished partner in this realm. 27% of companies in Sweden have female board members compared with 12% for other industrialized countries. Representation of women in Sweden’s parliament is well above the average for industrialized countries at 45% & 13 of Sweden’s 24 Cabinet Ministers are female.

That being said, women’s corporate leadership is historically still a new phenomenon. In many cases, we’re still working in conventionally-designed workplace structures and organizations tailored to a traditionally “male” definition of success and what a career arc should look like. But I believe we’re at a moment of truth for diversity in all forms! Right now what it means to be a leader, what a means to be a good corporate citizen and a sustainable company is changing and that change will bring greater openness and equality.

This new way of thinking about diversity is what Edge certification is leading the way on. Thank you Maria Oldin and Simona Scarpaleggia for flying in from Switzerland just to join us! A special thanks to Megan Beyer, a fellow “Ambassador’s spouse”, who spearheaded this issue when her husband was the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland. Megan, thank you for tracking me down in Chicago over the holidays and opening my eyes to Edge!

A special thanks to Bob and the entire Embassy team here in Sweden who is so committed to the promotion of human rights and civil rights: from the LGBT community to women’s equality and multiculturalism. It’s so inspiring to work under their passionate leadership on these equality issues!

Running in Sweden with the US Marines!

marinesToday I had the honor of running with terrific men and women of the US Marine detachment at Embassy Stockholm.  For me, it’s almost like a dream, as I remember from a very young age having such admiration for the Corps.  I remember when I was very young going to a presentation of the colors at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington DC, and simply admiring the discipline, poise, presence and leadership of these men and women.  Now decades later, I have the honor to serve along side the Marines.  And so it was just terrific for me personally to join our Marines on an almost five mile run around Stockholm today, listening to the Staff Sergeant as he plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon, and talk with the detachment about some of the plans we have for this year.  Bottom line:  To me there is something incredibly special about the sacrifice, fortitude and character of our Marines. They stand guard for us at Post 1 all day and all night, every day. They of course keep us secure – that is priority one. But whenever we see them, in colors or in fatigues, they remind each of us of the incredible sacrifice, the immeasurable sacrifice, that our young people who join the military make every day to keep the rest of us secure and free.  If that is not inspiration enough to just “bring it” in one’s day job, I don’t know what is.

Thank you Marines for letting me join you on today’s run!  I am so proud to stand next to you in our respective calls for duty. Semper Fi!

Visit by Attorney General Eric Holder to Sweden: America Stands for a More Just and Inclusive World

Ambassador Brzezinski and Attorney General Holder.

Ambassador Brzezinski and Attorney General Holder.

US Embassy Stockholm was thrilled to welcome to Sweden this week the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder.  The symbolic significance of the visit was clear:  To our knowledge, no sitting U.S. Attorney General has ever visited Sweden.  The visit was built around what America and Sweden have in common, and what we can learn from each other.  After all, democracy rests on the rule of law.  We can learn a lot from each other as democracies, as we confront and address new legal problems.

The visit began with the Attorney General meeting our Embassy team.   After getting a briefing from our country team, the Attorney General spent time with our U.S. Marines, taking the time to take individual photos with each.  We all know how busy he is, and it was just really classy and generous for him to share his time with our servicemen and women.  After that, we had bilateral meetings on international law enforcement issues.  Democracies are strengthened when we work together, and engagements like this are such an important part of learning from each other.

In the afternoon, the Attorney General gave an absolutely terrific speech in the old chamber of the Swedish Parliament, clarifying what we Americans stand for:  the fight for equality, human dignity and civil rights.  A link to the speech , which was entitled “A More Just and Inclusive Wrold:  Confronting the Civil Rights Challenges of our Time” can be found here.

Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski together with Gloria Ray Karlmark.

Mrs. Natalia Brzezinski together with Gloria Ray Karlmark.

Among the most poignant and moving parts of the speech was when Attorney General Holder talked about America’s struggle for civil rights and equality, our country’s legal steps, from the Equal Pay Act of 1963, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which step by step advanced civil rights in America.  When the Attorney General discussed the “countless passionate citizens and courageous young people like the Little Rock Nine – who, in 1957, braved bigotry and threats of violence to become the first African-American students to attend Little Rock Central High School, in Arkansas,” he referred specifically to one of the original members of the Little Rock Nine, who was sitting in the audience in Parliament, Gloria Ray Karlmark.  The Attorney General said  how incredibly honored we were to have her with us there, as she had  helped to open a new, but too long in coming, age of inclusion and opportunity.  The Attorney General then spoke off script, but for us all, when he said, “Gloria paved the way for me.”   That was an incredible moment that I will never forget.  After the speech, the Attorney General met Gloria Ray Karlmark in the hall and they embraced, recognizing each other for the historical figures they are.

Attorney General Holder speaks.

Attorney General Holder speaks.

The Attorney General has great credibility speaking on this topic.  Not only is he the top law enforcement official of the United States, his entire professional life reflects a commitment to this cause.  Already, as a student at Columbia Law School in New York, Attorney General Holder worked for the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP, the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the United States.  Following graduation, he began his long career at the Department of Justice.   Working in the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section in 1976, he was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state and federal levels.

Later, as a U.S. Attorney in Washington, he pulled together attorneys, their staffs and diverse communities to build communication between law enforcement officials and underrepresented communities.  In 1997, President Clinton appointed Mr. Holder Deputy Attorney General, the first African-American named to that post.

In 2008, President Obama nominated him to be Attorney General, the first African-American named to that post as well.  Since becoming Attorney General, he has continued his strong advocacy for civil and human rights.

To me, the shared value between the United States and Sweden that most closely links us is a shared commitment to fight for human dignity and equality and for what is just.  It was an incredible honor to listen to Attorney General Holder remind all of us, Americans, Swedes, and others from around the world, of what we stand for.  Read the speech, you will see what I mean.

Thank you, Attorney General, for your wonderful engagement in Sweden!