WASHINGTON, DC – United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has appointed Dr. Patrick Mendis as a Commissioner to the U.S. National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
To be considered for the three-year appointment, Mendis received several letters of recommendation including from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle.
“Dr. Mendis has extensive experience in foreign policy and international trade having served previously in the Department of State,” wrote Daschle in his letter to Sec. Clinton.
Mendis, a Sri Lankan-born and Minnesota educated affiliate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University, will join the federal advisory committee at the Department of State. The Commission provides advice regarding the U.S. government’s activities as a member of UNESCO.
“This is a distinct honor to serve my adopted country through the UNESCO Commission,” said Mendis.
The appointment was in part from previous experience at the Department of State, where Mendis advised U.S. delegations to the United Nations. Other experience included coordination of science and technology policy with the White House, serving as Secretariat Director of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and work for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Minnesota House of Representatives.
“The depth of knowledge and experience as diplomat possessed by Dr. Mendis makes him a natural choice to join the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO,” said Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum in her recommendation. “His leadership on the commission will be extremely valuable to our country.”
Mendis joins a field of distinguished American leaders that were selected an array of government organizations, universities and the private sector. The commissioners bring expert knowledge in specific subject areas.
Mendis, a former University of Minnesota professor of international relations, has authored two books on his perspectives of America’s mission in the world. He presented these insights based on relationships with historical figures, a dynamic education and form serving around the world as a visiting foreign policy scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota wrote to President Barack Obama, saying, “Dr. Mendis is a respected leader and award-winning public servant, teacher, and diplomat” who has served in “the US Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Defense, and State” during the Clinton and Bush administrations.
A fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, Mendis has worked in, and traveled to, more than 100 countries and visited all 50 states. He is an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where he established the Edward Burdick Legislative Award in honor of his late mentor at the Minnesota House of Representatives.
Mendis continues to teach, research and travel while serving the government. He and his wife have a son and a daughter who attend Purdue University and the University of Virginia, but they all consider Minnesota their home.