By Martha Nodar
As the French Consul General in Atlanta, Pascal Le Deunff focuses on strengthening the economic, scientific, cultural, trade and educational connections between France and the southeastern United States.
Le Deunff, who took over the Buckhead-based consulate in September, holds a doctorate degree in economics from the University of Paris, where he taught during his younger days, but it was his subsequent decision a few years later to accept a teaching post at the French Lycée in Montevideo, Uruguay, in the mid 1980s, that changed the course of his career and launched a succession of posts in diplomatic service around the world.
“At that time, Uruguay was coming out of a military dictatorship and was looking at Europe as a power protective of its own interests,” Le Deunff said. “I became involved and discussed economics and international matters with Uruguay’s leaders.”
In the years since, he has served as an attaché at the French Consulate in San Francisco and held diplomatic posts at the French Consul General in Germany and in the French Embassies in Malaysia, Slovenia, and Thailand.
“A diplomatic career is very exciting,” Le Deunff said. “It takes away from one’s own private life, but it also allows the opportunity to build bridges of friendship and understanding.”
In his homeland, Le Deunff served as deputy head of the Department for the European Foreign and Security Policy at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, a position in which he was in charge of explaining France’s position in matters related to European foreign policy to members of the media, elected officials and others. Last year he received the silver Medal of Honour of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs for all of his diplomatic efforts.
“Pascal has been immediately adopted by the international community,” said Michèle Olivères, the president of the Buckhead-based, French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC). “He is a brilliant person and a very hard worker.”
Le Deunff said one of his top priorities is to build relationships between “the universities here and the universities in France.”“I have a special interest in reaching out to those students in political science,” Le Deunff said.
He has wasted no time in making connections with the universities under his jurisdiction and visited Duke University shortly after his arrival. Next on Le Deunff’s agenda is Oglethorpe University in Brookhaven, where he is scheduled to address a class on the history of diplomacy in April.
“We are studying the evolution of the modern diplomatic system,” said Ronald Bobroff, Oglethorpe’s history professor. “We hope to learn from him the changes he has seen in diplomacy over his career.”
As consul general, Le Deunff works to protect the rights of French nationals living in the Southeastern states. He also functions as the spokesman of the Atlanta Francophonie Committee, which was established 10 years ago and organizes an annual festival to celebrate French language and culture.