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U.S. Ambassador to The Bahamas to conclude tenure on January 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – On January 20, 2009 His Excellency Ned L. Siegel and Mrs. Stephanie Siegel will depart The Bahamas, ending his tenure as the twelfth United States Ambassador to The Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

On November 14, 2007, Ambassador Siegel presented his credentials to Governor General His Excellency Arthur D. Hanna. Appointed fourteen months ago by President George W. Bush, Ambassador Siegel has worked closely with the Government of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas to further strengthen bilateral relations and advance several key initiatives. Ambassador and Mrs. Siegel succeeded in meeting the President’s vision of strengthening the bond between our two nations’ common values and beliefs.

Ambassador Siegel’s support of programs such as OPBAT and Enduring Friendship was key to assisting The Bahamas in interdicting the movement of illegal drugs and migrants. Through his leadership he ensured that continuity of service was maintained as OPBAT aviation assets transitioned from the U.S. Army to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). As part of his support for Enduring Friendship, Ambassador Siegel presented four patrol boats valued at over $3.3 million to the Royal Bahamas Defense Force in August 2008. In addition, Ambassador Siegel led efforts to improve U.S. Coast Guard and Bahamian facilities on the island of Great Inagua.

Ambassador Siegel strongly advocated the creation of business opportunities in The Bahamas. In July 2008, he coordinated a two-day Alternative Energy Conference, a region-wide effort to raise awareness and generate opportunities for effective renewable energy programs to the Caribbean. In March 2008, he led a delegation of Bahamian Government officials and stakeholders in the New Providence Downtown Redevelopment Project to tour Delray Beach, Florida where they engaged in productive dialogue and opened doors for future projects.

Through Ambassador Siegel’s efforts to forge connections between our two countries, the office of the Attorney General invited a group of U.S.-based legal and criminal justice experts, led by a prominent Florida judge, to The Bahamas in June 2008. Ambassador Siegel brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, including community groups, churches, schools, NGO’s and government representatives during the three day visit. This event proved to be an important step in the passage of an anti-crime package that included much needed plea bargaining legislature.

Ambassador Siegel successfully articulated the need to further strengthen U.S. Government presence in The Bahamas by initiating the process of a New Embassy Compound (NEC). Although constructing a new Embassy will occur several years after his departure, Ambassador Siegel was personally involved in convincing the U.S. Department of State to initiate this process. A multi-million dollar real estate development project, constructing a new Embassy is testament to the vision Ambassador Siegel had for the growth and future relationship of our two countries. In addition to the construction of a tangible new workplace, Ambassador Siegel’s legacy will be remembered in the creation of a closer mission community that focuses on teamwork and positive interpersonal relationships, creating an even more effective partnership between our two nations.

Ambassador Siegel worked tirelessly on social and health issues during his tenure. In October 2008 the “Read to Lead” initiative was launched as a partnership initiative between the Ministry of Education and the U.S. Embassy. The national program is geared to strengthen reading and literacy skills in students in grades 4 through 6 and is underway in New Providence, Grand Bahama, Abaco, Cat Island and Eleuthera.

In both 2007 and 2008 Ambassador Siegel awarded local organizations grants totaling $25,000 to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas.

Ambassador Siegel and his wife Stephanie were instrumental in the launch of The Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative (BBCI). The BBCI was created to raise awareness about the importance of education and early detection and elevate the standard of cancer screening and care in The Bahamas. At the invitation of the Ambassador and his wife, Susan G. Komen for the Cure joined the Bahamas Breast Cancer Initiative partnership, in association with the Cancer Society of The Bahamas to sponsor the “Stride for Life” walk held last November.

Ambassador and Mrs. Siegel are leaving a legacy in a very tangible way – the BBCI will support clinical research trials that could reveal the underlying causes that lead to the alarming number of breast cancer cases in young women in The Bahamas.

Ambassador Siegel, on behalf of the U.S. Government, wishes to thank the people and the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas for their contributions to our bilateral relationship. Through a joint effort, the United States and The Bahamas have accomplished many mutual goals, including: combating international crime, drugs and illegal migrants; preventing and responding to terrorism; fostering economic growth and development; and facilitation of travel between our countries while ensure the security of both borders.

Ambassador and Mrs. Siegel will return to their home in Boca Raton, Florida. Ambassador Siegel will continue his career in real estate and business while volunteering time to personally important civic, Jewish, educational and political causes.

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