- 17 Aug 2020 1:49 PM
Mr. Dillard has had a variety of postings in Washington and overseas since joining the State Department in 1998. Most recently, he was the Director of the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, where his team worked on strategic planning, communications, and policy issues related to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Prior to that, Mr. Dillard was Counselor for Political and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria. His other postings include Japan, Korea, Malawi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as service as a Watch Officer/Senior Watch Officer in the State Department’s Operations Center.
Mr. Dillard received a bachelor’s degree in history from Duke University and a Ph.D. in political economy and public policy from the University of Southern California. He has worked as a consultant in the private sector, taught economics at the university level, and is the recipient of multiple State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards. His wife, Julia Dillard, is also a Foreign Service Officer. They have two children.
1. When did you arrive in Hungary and what brought you here?
My family and I arrived in August 2019--so exactly a year ago. My job at the U.S. Embassy brought me here, but ever since I first visited Budapest in 1987 I’ve wanted to return.
2. Have you ever been an expatriate elsewhere?
Oh yes—a diplomatic career means frequent moves, usually every two to three years. I've lived, worked, or studied in Austria, Germany, Britain, Japan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, South Korea, and Bulgaria.
3. What surprised you most about Hungary?
How many similarities I saw between Budapest and Chicago when I started learning about Budapest's growth in the late 19th century and the obvious love for architecture in both places.
4. Friends are in Budapest for a weekend - what must they absolutely see and do?
If the weather's good, the top of the Basilica is a must for the great view. Going to a local outdoor market on a Saturday morning, as well as getting out to a café and bakery, are delicious local experiences. And the Danube plays such a role in this city, I always tell people to take a cruise or spend time walking along the banks of the river.
5. What is your favourite Hungarian food?
I have a fondness for Hortobágyi palacsinta and for cold fruit soups, and who could overlook the amazing dessert? Somloi galuska is so delicious, even if it's too rich for me to have every day. And we've made some házi pálinka from apples at the house.
6. What is never missing from your refrigerator?
A bottle of pezsgő.
7. What is your favourite Hungarian word?
Gyönyörű! Somehow its very sound evokes images of Hungarian landscapes for me.
8. What do you miss most from home?
We truly enjoy living in Hungary, but it is difficult to miss family events. We do our best to stay connected with friends and family back home, but this year that has been more challenging because of COVID-19. So we have had to share in family events from afar.
9. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I taught at the university level and worked for a consultancy before I joined the diplomatic corps. I enjoyed both and might try them again someday.
10. What's a job you would definitely never want?
Tax preparation. I get quite enough of it once a year!
11. Where did you spend your last vacation?
My family and I enjoyed a recent trip to Lake Balaton. We had a quiet week on the north side, enjoying time at the strand, sailing on the lake, touring Keszthely and Herend, and sampling local food and wines.
12. Where do you hope to spend your next holiday?
Pécs, Győr, Eger, and Gyula are all on my list, as I love learning the history of this region. Outside of Hungary, I'd like to get to Prague and Krakow.
13. Apart of temptation what can't you resist?
Competition. It drives me to do better every day. As for actual temptations, it is incredibly difficult to pass up just one more slice of dobos torta!
14. What was your favourite band, film, or hobby as a teen?
Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I grew up outside of Chicago, where the film is set, and some of my friends appeared in it as extras.
15. Red wine or white?
Red. These days I’m exploring the subtleties of Kékfrankos.
16. Book or movie?
Books always tell me more.
17. Morning person or night person?
Morning--the early bird gets the worm!
18. Which social issue do you feel most strongly about?
Education. Good education, available to all, is at the heart of economic and social progress.
19. Buda or Pest side?
I live in Buda yet work in Pest, so I get to enjoy both -- the green on the Buda side and the bustle on the Pest side... do I have to choose?
20. What would you say is your personal motto?
"If you are going to do it, do it well."