Celebrating the Spirit of the Marshall Plan in 2022

January 07, 2022
Happy New Year! I hope this message finds you healthy and well despite these challenging days.

It is a new year, a new beginning, and a new chapter in the history of the German Marshall Fund of the United States! What an honor it is to serve as the sixth president of this vital and vibrant organization that has dedicated itself—for the past 50 years—to ensuring that the transatlantic relationship can meet the challenges of the future.  

And what a year it will be! Not only is this year GMF’s golden anniversary, but it is also the 75th anniversary of Secretary of State George Marshall’s historic Harvard speech that outlined the policy contours of what became the Marshall Plan. This plan has been described as “one of the greatest and most honorable adventures in history” and offered, at a particularly dark time, “hope where there was none.”   

Greatest... most honorable... hopeful... bold... consequential—these are the words that are used often to describe the impact of the Marshall Plan, and they inspire the GMF staff and fellows who daily are on the front lines of strengthening the transatlantic relationship on both sides of the Atlantic. 

For us, this is the living, breathing Marshall Plan—absorbing the lessons of history while embracing the potential of the future, building transatlantic connections, positioning the relationship for future success as well as enhanced security and prosperity, and advocating for democratic values.

It is a time to be purposeful in our words and innovative in our actions.   

As I watch Russia’s growing military build-up on Ukraine’s border and its threats to transatlantic security, and as I witness the political frustrations and economic challenges in Europe and the United States today, I have the unmistakable sense that we are revisiting some elements of the 1946-48 period when the Truman administration put forward its bold plan to strengthen and rebuild European democracies. Today, we sense a similar geostrategic stress emanating from authoritarian countries against the community of democracies, and we understand once again the profound need to transform the transatlantic relationship. 

It is a time for reinvention—instead of trying to adapt older approaches to the present, we must reassess, reaffirm our values, innovate, and build anew. The need for GMF’s work with emerging leaders, civil society organizations, and their policy solutions has never been greater.

While the “German” in the German Marshall Fund of the United States recognizes the extraordinarily generous gift given by the German government in 1972 to honor the then-25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan by establishing GMF, the “G” in GMF also easily could stand for “global.” Although GMF’s Washington headquarters and its seven Europe-based offices concentrate on the transatlantic, this essential relationship and its impact is global as we embrace joint dialogues with Indo-Pacific partners, focus on the impact of digitalization and technology, equip civil society leaders, and ensure that generations to come continue to recognize the vibrancy and promise of this, the world’s most vital partnership. 

It is a time to think and act both transatlantically and globally.  

It also is a testing time. If the global pandemic has taught us anything, it has been to be resilient and adaptable amid uncertainty. GMF has continued to adjust its work and workforce to meet these unprecedented times with flexibility and positivity alongside an enduring commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as we advance new priorities and potential for the transatlantic relationship.

But, most importantly, it is a time for sharing and celebrating with friends, partners, and supporters. 

I look forward to sharing more with you about planning for GMF’s exciting future as well as the celebration of 50 remarkable years of service and 75 years of bold and consequential American leadership. I value your feedback and insights.

Thank you for the warm welcome that many of you already have given me, and I look forward to working with you over the coming months and years. Thank you for being part of our community and for supporting the values that GMF represents. 

It is GMF’s time—and it is our 50th year!