Clay Doherty ’97

Clay Doherty
Pursuing a Passion for Public Service
The past four years have been exciting for Clay Doherty ’97, who Engage recently reached at his office in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Appointee works as Director of Protocol & Special Events for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The federal agency is responsible for administering all civilian foreign aid and disaster relief around the world, as well as leading international development efforts.As the agency’s chief protocol officer, Doherty oversees the details of all diplomatic and high-level visits, including those of heads of state, foreign ministers and notable public figures. “Protocol is about building relationships,” he said. “I’m usually the first person to greet dignitaries when they arrive, so from start to finish, it’s my responsibility to ensure we not only follow proper etiquette and formalities, but that our guests are comfortable and feel welcome.”

An experienced global public affairs executive, Doherty started at USAID as Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement. He was promoted to his current position after an assignment in the Republic of Kosovo, where he served as the Senior U.S. Government Representative and Special Advisor to the President of Kosovo while running a US-sponsored international summit. A recent busy day found him preparing for an agency town hall, a visit by Pakistan’s Minister of Defense, while simultaneously arranging a reception for the USAID Administrator later that evening.

“What I love about my job is that every day is unique and different,” he said.

During his time at Hampden-Sydney studying Political Science, Doherty also completed the Public Service Leadership Program, which he credits with setting him on the path toward public service.

“That was important to me,” he added. “Hampden-Sydney is a rare institution that educates the whole person and that prepared me to serve my country. At Hampden-Sydney, you’re taught the value of being committed to something greater than yourself.”