New York Times
Official Hired to Improve U.S. Image Resigns
By DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON, March 3 — Charlotte Beers, the former advertising executive who has been the Bush administration's point person in efforts to improve America's image among Muslims, is quitting her State Department job after 17 months of mixed reviews.
A State Department official, who asked not to be identified, said Ms. Beers, 67, is resigning for health reasons. The official said her resignation would become effective in about two weeks.
Ms. Beers, a former chairwoman of J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather, was appointed undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in September 2001, just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Her task was to devise a multimillion-dollar public diplomacy campaign, complete with academic exchange programs and slick public service advertisements, to soften anti-American feelings.
Some people who followed American foreign policy wondered whether it was appropriate in the first place to have an advertising executive try to change the image of the United States. But others credited Ms. Beers with reinvigorating efforts, through discussions and training sessions, to paint a truer picture of the United States.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell came to the defense of Ms. Beers soon after she was appointed. "Guess what?" Mr. Powell told a group of senators in November 2001. "There is nothing wrong with getting somebody who knows how to sell something."
Ms. Beers concentrated on ways to erase stereotypes about Americans that are widespread in Islamic countries.
She acknowledged only last week that her mission has been daunting. "The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen and how we are in fact seen is frighteningly wide," she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The interim replacement for Ms. Beers will be Patricia Harrison, now head of the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.