Alumnus Provides Insider's Perspective on U.S. Foreign Service

Alumnus Provides Insider's Perspective on U.S. Foreign Service
U.S. diplomat Jonathan Farrar graduated from the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences in 1978 with a bachelor's in Political Science.

U.S. diplomat and alumnus Jonathan Farrar discussed “Details on the U.S. Foreign Service — an Insider's Perspective” with a group of more than 60 Cal Poly Pomona students, faculty, staff and local elementary school students on April 3 in the Bronco Student Center.

Farrar assumed the position of Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor for the U.S. Department of State in November 2005. Prior to this assignment, he served as a deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He joined the State Department in 1980 and is an economic officer and career member of the Senior Foreign Service.

He graduated from the College of Letters, Arts & Social Sciences in 1978 with a bachelor's in Political Science. As an undergraduate, Farrar was a member of Cal Poly Pomona's National Model United Nations team. He later earned a degree from Claremont Graduate School.

“The Foreign Service is a fantastic career. I've been at it for more than 25 years, and I'm not tired of it,” said Farrar. “It's a very challenging and competitive career, and it is a job that requires full-time dedication.”

The State Department leads the United States in its relationships with foreign governments, international organizations and the people of other countries. Through diplomacy, it aims to provide a more free, prosperous and secure world.

Farrar explained that the State Department has undergone a transformation of diplomacy. “It's no longer just a matter of diplomatic reporting,” he said. “We are out there, engaged and trying to make a difference by implementing $250 million in programs around the world.”

Those who work for the Foreign Service today are a “much better reflection of American society,” said Farrar. “It's no longer just East Coast Ivy League, Anglo-Saxons like it was years ago. It's a split of about 50/50 men and women.”

Both the best and worst aspect of his career is changing job positionsand posts every few years, said Farrar, who has had four assignments in the past five years.

“It never gets stale, but you're also constantly looking for a new job,” he said.

Farrar is the recipient of two State Department Superior Honor Awards and four Meritorious Honor Awards. His career includes extensive experience in Latin America, with overseas assignments at the U.S. embassies in Mexico, Belize, Paraguay and Uruguay. His most recent overseas posting was as deputy chief of mission in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Farrar also has had several domestic assignments in the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, including service as deputy director of the Office of Andean Affairs and as country desk officer for Argentina. Farrar has served twice on the staff of the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, most recently as chief of staff to the Under Secretary from 2002-04.

The History department's Honor Society, Phi Alpha Theta, hosted the discussion.