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Embassy hosts Consular Leadership Day.

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The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has a consular section of more than 20 entry-level officers and processes approximately 2,000 visas daily. In January, the section used one of the 10 leadership tenets of the Bureau of Consular Affairs as the theme for its Consular Leadership Day.

A team led by Consul General Sylvia Johnson, American citizen services chief Scott Cecil, nonimmigrant visa chief Joe Pomper and deputy NIV chiefs Melissa Bishop and Andrew McClearn chose the tenet "Learn Constantly." Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Maura Harty, who served her first Foreign Service tour in Mexico City in 1982, attended the event.

The January 29 event began with a role-reversal exercise in which each officer experienced what a Locally Employed staff member goes through every day and vice versa. All experienced what it's like to be a visa applicant. In the NIV section, LE staff members became both visa applicants and visa adjudicators, and officers took on LE staff responsibilities to enroll and process applicants. They later role-played applicants.

In ACS, LE staff served as officers, adjudicating passport applications and handling such portfolios as arrests and death notifications. They then became passport applicants, while the officers learned how to enroll and process applications. Participants were given questionnaires and encouraged to provide feedback.

Next, the group discussed what it had learned, what improvements could be made and how customer service could be enhanced. Each small group then presented its ideas to the entire section and acknowledged the need to offer applicants greater empathy. Suggestions put forth included simplifying the enrollment process, providing more information to applicants and rewording the refusal remarks given to unqualified applicants. LE staff and officers expressed appreciation for the difficulty of each other's work and a newfound understanding of the challenges each faces.

At lunch, Assistant Secretary Harty spoke about the lessons learned and her time in Mexico City, and then led a spirited game of Consular Jeopardy, with categories such as passports, NIVs and American citizen services.
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Publication:State Magazine
Geographic Code:1MEX
Date:Apr 1, 2008
Words:335
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