Marie Royce was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate and sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs on March 30, 2018. In this capacity, she oversees a wide range of programs to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives through educational, professional, cultural, and sports exchanges that promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other nations. The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) programs create networks and partnerships to advance U.S. foreign policy goals and address the world’s greatest challenges and opportunities.
Ms. Royce, a former businesswoman and professor, was previously the CEO and Principal of Marie Royce LLC, in California before joining the State Department. She has over 30 years of experience in the private sector with Fortune 500 companies and as a small business owner, creating and launching start-ups and new initiatives and serving as a key business liaison to 80 countries. She held senior management positions at Marriott International, Alcatel-Lucent, Proctor & Gamble, among others.
As a former educator and full-time university professor at California State Polytechnic University, Ms. Royce led an international grant program between universities. She has served on 20 non-profit boards, and as a private sector appointee on the Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy (ACICIP) at the State Department, in addition to serving on two U.S. Cultural Exchange Boards. She participated as an American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegate to Hungary and Poland and was recognized with the “2018 ACPYL Honors Award.” She was also recognized by the American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) with its distinguished “Internationalism Award.”
Ms. Royce earned a BS/BA (double major) at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and an MBA at Georgetown University in International Business with honors, Beta Gamma Sigma. She is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Matthew Lussenhop joined the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) as Principal Deputy Secretary of State (PDAS) in July 2019. He is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, and has served his country as a Foreign Service Officer since 1990.
Prior to his arrival at ECA, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the United States to the Kingdom of Belgium, August 2016 – June 2019, including 18 months as Chargé d'affaires. From 2013 - 16, he was the DCM at the U.S. Embassy to the Kingdom of Morocco, including ten months as the Chargé d'affaires. Mr. Lussenhop previously served in ECA as a Senior Advisor for Policy from 2011-13.
Mr. Lussenhop has served in the field of public diplomacy and strategic communications in numerous posts overseas, including Public Affairs Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010-11. Other overseas assignments include positions at U.S. embassies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait; Muscat, Oman; Rabat, Morocco; Sofia, Bulgaria; and Manila, Philippines.
In Washington, D.C., Mr. Lussenhop has served in the State Department’s Bureau of Near East and North African Affairs, and as Director of Public Diplomacy Training at the Foreign Service Institute.
Mr. Lussenhop is the recipient of multiple State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. He speaks Arabic and French, and is a native of Minnesota and a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. .
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs
Caroline Casagrande is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Academic Programs in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The programs supported by her office include: Fulbright Scholarships, Humphrey Fellowships, Gilman Scholarships, overseas American Spaces, undergraduate exchanges, teacher exchanges, the promotion of U.S. higher education overseas and study abroad for Americans, and English and foreign language study programs.
Previously, Ms. Casagrande served as the Special Advisor to ECA Assistant Secretary Marie Royce, providing senior-level advice on the formulation of public diplomacy programming to support the National Security Strategy. She has led new initiatives on a broad range of educational and cultural exchange programming to support global women’s economic empowerment, religious freedom, and countering state-sponsored disinformation.
A life-long public servant, Ms. Casagrande served in the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 11th and 12th Legislative Districts from 2008 to 2016, rising to Deputy Republican Leader. She is the youngest woman assembly member ever elected in New Jersey, and a member of the first all-female delegation to represent a New Jersey Legislative District. Prior to serving in the New Jersey Assembly, she was a partner in the law firm of Menna, Supko & Casagrande in Shrewsbury, NJ. She has served as township attorney and special counsel for municipalities throughout New Jersey. Ms. Casagrande served as Director of the Young Women’s Leadership Institute from 2010-2016, which she developed to expose high school seniors to careers in public service. She has been an honorary fellow of Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics since 2015. She is an exchange alumna, having participated both as an American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) delegate to Nepal in 2010 and as an ACYPL fellowship recipient at the East-West Center in 2015 from where she traveled to India as part of a delegation of young parliamentarians.
A New Jersey native, Ms. Casagrande holds a J.D. from Rutgers School of Law – Camden and a B.A. in political science from Pennsylvania State University.
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy
Aleisha Woodward is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, she oversees strategic planning, policy coordination, evaluation, innovation, and alumni engagement that cut across and support the program branches of ECA. Ms. Woodward also leads the Bureau’s efforts to protect cultural heritage in support of foreign policy goals.
Since joining the Foreign Service in 1998, Ms. Woodward has served in at U.S. embassies in Japan, the United Kingdom, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Ireland, and Korea, and as Consul General in Perth, Australia. In Washington, she has worked in the Office of Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands and as a Senior Watch Officer in the Operations Center.
Ms. Woodward received undergraduate and graduate degrees in international relations from Brigham Young University. In 2010, she was awarded a graduate degree in national security strategy by the National War College.
Ms. Woodward speaks Japanese, Russian, and Romanian; she can also shop in Spanish and French. She grew up on a potato farm in the southeast of Washington state. She enjoys traveling, scuba diving, cheering for her favorite Australian Rules Football team, singing in her church choir, and keeping in touch with her large, extended family.
Susan R. Crystal
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges
Susan Crystal is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). She joined the Bureau in August 2018 and is responsible for overseeing a broad array of professional, youth, cultural and sports exchange programs for U.S. and foreign audiences, supported by the Office of International Visitors and the Office of Citizen Exchanges. She places a strong focus on mentoring, diversity and inclusion, and leadership coaching.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Minister Counselor, she served previously in the Bureau of Human Resources in the Office of Career Development and Assignments where she and her team were responsible for advancing career development innovations for the 14,000 members of the Foreign Service in support of strategic goals to develop and sustain an agile and diverse workforce. She also supported Strategic Communications for the Director General of the Foreign Service. Other Washington assignments include the Bureaus of Western Hemisphere Affairs and European Affairs, as well as a previous assignment in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Overseas, Ms. Crystal held public diplomacy positions in Canada, Australia, Ecuador, Haiti, Mauritius and South Africa. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she worked in constituent services for a Member of the United States Congress. Originally from Pittsburgh, she is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University and holds a professional certificate in Leadership Coaching from George Mason University. Her foreign languages are French and Spanish.
G. Kevin Saba
Managing Director for Private Sector Exchange
G. Kevin Saba serves as Managing Director for Private Sector Exchange at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). In this capacity, he oversees the Exchange Visitor Program, which brings around 300,000 foreign citizens to the United States annually to teach, study, and build skills. He is concurrently the Director for the Policy and Program Support Division in ECA’s Office of Private Sector Exchange.
Mr. Saba joined the Department of State (DOS) in 2002 as Special Advisor to the Chief Financial Officer. He subsequently served as the DOS liaison assisting with the start-up of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). From 2003 -2005, he served as the first Managing Director of the Threshold Country Program of the MCC, administering large-scale grants to fund country-led initiatives to create conditions conducive to reducing poverty and contributing to sustainable economic growth. Mr. Saba returned to DOS in 2006 and assisted in the launch of the Global Partnership Initiative, an effort aimed at strengthening U.S. diplomacy and development worldwide by leveraging the creativity, innovation, and core business resources of civil society, public and private sector partners. During his tenure, Mr. Saba served as Regional Director for Global Partnerships and acted as co-chair of the public-private partnership task force of the Secretary of State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). He has also has served with the Bureau of International Information Programs.
Mr. Saba has more than 20 years of private sector experience serving in various leadership capacities. His most recent private sector experience included serving as President of Managed Care USA and President of Nations' Care, a subsidiary of the Orion Capital Companies. In June 2008, Kevin was accredited by the Overseas Development Institute and the International Business Leaders Forum as a professional broker of multi-sector partnerships. He earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Hartford and has enjoyed teaching college courses in business.