ENRICHMENT LECTURE STAFF
Honorable F. A. (Tex) Harris
South America - Voyage To Lost Civilizations
Tex Harris has served for many years as the diplomats' diplomat. He was twice elected as the President of the American Foreign Service Association -- the professional organization and representative of 23,000 American diplomats around the world. Tex retired from the State Department in 1999 after a 35-year career, largely working on African Affairs.
Tex Harris' connection with Africa began in 1961 as a student traveler between his graduation from Princeton University and his entry into the University of Texas Law School. Tex traversed East Africa traveling from Alexandria, Egypt to Mombasa, Kenya overland, much of the trip on the Nile River. Tex traveled extensively through East Africa, living among the Karamojo people in Northeast Uganda and visiting all the major areas in the entire region.
In 1965 Tex joined the Foreign Service and in 1983 returned to Africa. As the head of the State Department's Office of Emergency Operations, Tex coordinated US and international assistance to hundreds of thousands of Tigrean and Eritrean refugees who had fled the fighting and famine of their home villages into teeming refugee camps in Eastern Sudan.
In 1985, Tex began nine years of diplomatic work on South Africa and its neighbors. Apartheid was a major international issue throughout the US then. Tex became the Deputy Director for Southern African Affairs at State with responsibility for South Africa, Lesotho and Swazland. In September 1987, the date that large-scale communal violence erupted in Natal and KwaZulu between the Inkatha and ANC political movements, Tex arrived as the U.S. Consul General in Durban, South Africa. There he provided a neutral ground for the warring factions to meet. Tex was the first diplomat to speak out publicly about the growing threat of the HIV/AIDS pandemic that was moving along the truck routes throughout the region to the major port of Durban. Tex returned to Washington in 1991 to head the Office of African Regional Affairs.
One writer described Tex Harris as the "Forest Gump of the Foreign Service" always in the wrong place at the right time. Tex' career has seen him working on the human rights in 1976-77 during the "dirty war" in Argentina when over 13,000 citizens were "disappeared" by the military junta. Tex was almost fired for his work at the time; but 20 years later he was awarded the State Department's highest award for this human rights work. Tex drafted the first international call in 1977 for an international ban of freons (CFCs) to stop the destruction of atmospheric ozone. As the Associate Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for International Affairs in 1980, Tex set up the initial program to inform the international scientific and environmental community about the destruction of the ozone layer. As a result, Tex was the first person fired from EPA by the new Administrator. When Tex's Ambassadorial appointment was threatened by several Senators who had been singled out by Tex for their international junkets, Tex was rewarded by the Department with the quiet and safe post of Consul General in Melbourne, Australia. However, when the NATO bombing of Serbia began in March 1999, Melbourne became a flash point for Serb protests against the US as that Australian city was home to the second largest Serb population in the world outside of Yugoslavia. The Consulate was besieged by thousands of protestors and attacked with Molotov cocktails.
Tex retired in 1999 after 35 great years as an American diplomat. That year, the American Foreign Service Association named one of its highest awards for intellectual courage in his honor.
Tex is currently working to strengthen America's diplomatic readiness by developing a series of Internet sites for American diplomats to exchange views from around the world. He is also at work on an Internet forum on digital diplomacy with the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.
Tex and Jeanie have been married for 35 years and have three children: Scott - a software engineer with a dot com; Julie - a kindergarten teacher and Young Life leader; and Clark - a senior in economics at the University of Virginia. Tex loves to catch fish and emails, but not at the same time.
Raised in sunny California, Jeanie graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a major in philosophy. Six feet tall she was delighted to meet Tex Harris who was a six feet six basketball player. They married and have traveled around the world producing three super children now all in their twenties.
The Harrises have lived overseas in Latin America, Africa and Australia. Between the five of them they speak Spanish, French, a bit of Japanese and Zulu. They love Australian rules football and watching sports.
Jeanie has worked in a variety of fields. Her primary field is education. Jeanie has a master's degree in education with a specialty in teaching learning disabled students. She has worked both in teaching and school administration in a variety of settings. Her oldest student was fifty-six and her youngest student was four. She is a Jill of all trades who enjoys fishing, reading, travel and art.
During this Five Continent Odyssey, Jeanie will present an informal lecture entitled: Life and Love in the Foreign Service.
E-mail: Ted Pedas firstname.lastname@example.org