The United States and New York City in particular has been the global epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past month. Many Australians live and work in New York, and so much of Australia’s deep commercial and financial ties with the United States run through New York. How are the thousands of businesses that operate between the United States and Australia faring in a period of closed borders? And looking beyond business, what is the role of the US-Australian alliance amid a global pandemic?

To discuss these issues, the USSC hosted a webinar event featuring Ambassador John Berry (ret.), President of the American Australian Association, in a conversation with US Studies Centre CEO Professor Simon Jackman.

Ambassador John Berry served as the 25th US Ambassador and President Obama’s personal representative to Australia from 2013-2016. Prior to that, Ambassador Berry served in multiple senior government positions, earning three unanimous Senate confirmations, including: the head of “HR” for the federal government as Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM); the “COO” of the Department of Interior as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget; the head of 40 per cent of federal law enforcement as Acting Assistant Secretary for Enforcement at the Treasury Department; and Legislative Director for Rep. Steny Hoyer. Ambassador Berry has also been a leader in the non-profit sector, serving as the Director of the Smithsonian National Zoo; The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Government Relations for the Smithsonian Institution. Ambassador Berry has accomplished many firsts, most notably, the first openly LGBT US Ambassador to a G20 country and while at OPM, he was the highest-ranking LGBT executive official in US history.