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Courtney O'Donnell sworn in as U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO

Vice President Kamala Harris (R) swears in Courtney O'Donnell as Permanent Representative to UNESCO with the rank of ambassador in the ceremonial office at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, saying she "always answers the call to serve." Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
1 of 3 | Vice President Kamala Harris (R) swears in Courtney O'Donnell as Permanent Representative to UNESCO with the rank of ambassador in the ceremonial office at the White House in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, saying she "always answers the call to serve." Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- Courtney O'Donnell was sworn in Tuesday as U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, with the rank of ambassador.

Vice President Kamala Harris performed Tuesday's swearing-in at the White House ceremonial office.

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"I had the honor of swearing in Courtney O'Donnell as our next ambassador to UNESCO. She has worked with me, second gentlemen Douglas Emhoff, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden for years and always answers the call to serve," Harris said in a post on X.

"Ambassador O'Donnell, there is no one better to represent our nation at UNESCO."

"And now you are going on to serve in Paris and continue that work," Harris added. "And we are so thankful to you for all you have done and continue to do on behalf of our country."

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O'Donnell served as communications director for Jill Biden during the Obama administration when Joe Biden was vice president, and more recently as a senior adviser in Harris' office and acting chief of staff for second gentleman Emhoff.

In Paris, O'Donnell will work with UNESCO member states to restore and maintain U.S. presence and leadership on a number of issues.

In January, O'Donnell made her case as a nominee before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vowing "to advocate for America's foreign policy goals," by countering the influence of the People's Republic of China, Russia and other authoritarian states. O'Donnell also promised to fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, in addition to ensuring UNESCO's "efficient and transparent" operations.

O'Donnell told Senate leaders that UNESCO is the only U.N. agency to promote Holocaust education efforts.

"In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel and the related rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, this work has never been more urgent," O'Donnell said, adding "I will be proud to stand with our Israeli partners and allies to challenge this unacceptable discrimination."

The World Jewish Congress said O'Donnell's U.S. leadership within UNESCO will not only preserve cultural heritage, but will strengthen initiatives against misinformation and Holocaust denial.

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"Courtney O'Donnell's strong commitment to combating anti-Semitism and her active role in Holocaust remembrance initiatives make her an outstanding choice for this role," World Jewish Congress executive vice president Maram Stern said in a statement earlier this year.

"Her experience and leadership in strategic coalition-building across various sectors are essential for UNESCO's multi-faceted mission."

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