August 26, 1998
Release No. 49-98

CONTACT: Catherine Stearns
PHONE: (202) 401-1190

United States Information Agency
- News Release


Washington, D.C. -- Kathy Bentley has been hired by the United States Information Agency (USIA) and assigned as a United States Foreign Service Officer at the American Embassy in Panama City, Panama.

Bentley has been in foreign service training since April 1998 and begins Spanish language brush-up studies at the Foreign Service Institute in Arlington, Va., in September. She will begin her assignment as Assistant Information Officer (AIO), Panama City, in Fall 1998. As AIO, Bentley will work with journalists covering U.S. issues in Panama and represent the U.S. Embassy in media briefings and press conferences.

Prior to joining USIA, Bentley was Assistant to the Honorary Consul of Mexico in Charlotte, N.C. She has extensive experience in Latin America, having worked as Marketing Director for Alta- Mex, Charlotte; studied Spanish and anthropology in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1995, and, while living in Argentina in 1992-1994, recorded and released to radio two Spanish-language songs.

Bentley, the daughter of Sgt. and Mrs. John Bentley, was born in Ft. Campbell, Ky., and grew up in Canton and Hopkinsville. She graduated from Hopkinsville's Christian County High School in 1971. After graduating from Western Kentucky University in 1973, she lived in Cadiz for 15 years and was active in local music and television. Her two sons, Jacob and Justin Harper, currently attend Murray State University. Her mother, Mrs. Jewell Miller, resides in Cadiz.

USIA, an independent agency of the executive branch which supports U.S. foreign policy and national interests abroad, conducts international educational and cultural exchanges, broadcasting, and information programs.

A USIA foreign service officer overseas often acts as the embassy spokesperson, arranges educational exchanges such as the Fulbright program, writes speeches for U.S. diplomatic officials, and helps plan and support presidential, congressional and other senior official visits.

Becoming a foreign service officer is a three-step, competitive process. Each year USIA and the State Department jointly hold a written exam that tests an applicant's knowledge of geography, English language, world and American history, American culture, and economics. Between 11,000 and 13,000 people take the written exam each year. About 25 percent of the applicants advance to an oral exam that tests a candidate's integrity, negotiating skills, resourcefulness, writing aptitude, and leadership ability.

Finally, those candidates who reach a predetermined score undergo security checks and physical exams to make sure they are able to take on the duties of the foreign service. Each year, the State Department and USIA combined hire between 100 and 300 people, depending on the organizations' needs.

Feature writers/editors: If you wish to interview Ms. Bentley about her career and role in the U.S. foreign service, please contact Catherine Stearns at USIA, telephone (202) 401-1190.

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The United States Information Agency, headed by Dr. Joseph Duffey, is an independent foreign affairs agency within the executive branch that explains and supports U.S. foreign policy and national security interests abroad through a wide range of exchange and information programs. The Agency promotes mutual understanding between the United States and other countries through a series of educational and cultural exchange activities.

USIA's programs include the Voice of America, Radio and TV Martí, the WORLDNET satellite television system, the daily Washington File newswire, the Fulbright scholarship program, the International Visitor Program, the Speakers and Specialists Program, three Foreign Press Centers in the United States, and a network of overseas resource and cultural centers. The Agency has 190 posts in 141 countries.

The USIA domestic server can be accessed through Homepage or through most search engines on the Internet.

USIA News Releases