WASHINGTON, DC – Michael Karloutsos has been appointed Deputy Chief of Protocol and Acting Chief, a high-profile position in the State Department, and will begin on July 23. He brings many years of extensive experience in politics and public relations to the position.
In an exclusive interview with TNH, Karloutsos said that this appointment “is an incredible blessing and honor and I can only hope that I will meet everyone’s expectations” in this capacity. “I will serve as the Deputy Chief of Protocol and Acting Chief for the United States Government out of the State Department.”
He said the position “is a dream come true. My entire life I wanted to serve our country, the United States of America, and to be able to do it right now under the current administration, under these circumstances in which the world finds itself is an incredible honor, but also a great challenge.”
Explaining what his job will entail, Karloutsos said that “the Protocol Office overall serves essentially as the first line of defense in diplomacy for the United Stated of America. They call it ‘the first hand of diplomacy’ and the chief diplomat of the United States of America is the secretary of state. We establish the protocol between the United States of America and every other governments around the world with which we engage.” Karloutsos will work under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Explaining how and why he was chosen for the position, Karloutsos pointed to his vast and varied experiences, such as his involvement “every step of the way over the last 25 years of the many visits of the ecumenical patriarch to the United States, my work in politics, the work that I did with Pope Francis in Jerusalem, and then in Lesbos, and then of course the Great and Holy Council in Crete last year. I think all those things serve as preparation for me to assume the position at this time.” Also, “I thank God I that have good friends within the Administration who saw the work that I have done and they felt I was ready to assume that job.” He said “I am grateful to (Chief of Staff) Reince Priebus and (Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Advance) George Gigicos” for their recommendations.
Will the position be permanent? “It is a political appointment by the president of the United States and I will work at the pleasure of the president and the secretary of state, and God willing I will do a good job and I will stay as long as they are in office,” Karloutsos said.
Though he has not met President Trump personally as yet, “I have been in many situations with him over the course of the last year,” Karloutsos said. “I am not the type of person to promote myself, so when I had the opportunity over the last few months I did not push myself to get a picture or shake hands, but I am looking forward to that moment and obviously there are going to be many of those moments.”
How can/would he help the Greek-American community? “My name is Michael Karloutsos,” he began, “and people know who I am and what I stand for. I am a very proud Greek-American, I am a very proud Greek Orthodox Christian, and I will never shy away for voicing my opinion, especially on the issues that I know about. So, on the issues of our community, whether Cyprus, the Patriarchate, the name of Macedonia – those are causes that mean everything to me and I will not be shy voicing my opinion. I will be respectful of the fact that now I am part of government, of the Administration, and there will be differences of opinion at the table, but hopefully I can always make people understand why the causes I believe in are also good for America. With an America First policy you always have to keep that in mind, but I know how to do it.”
Regarding last year’s GHC, Karloutsos said “the highlight for me was the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was something that was absolutory undeniable because only through the Grace of God and the Holy Spirit could the GHC have taken place with everything that was going on in the world. With the interference of the Russian Church, the politics in world at that point in time, for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his primate brethren to have the courage to convene was remarkable to me and I was really blessed to be part of it.”
As for the community in general, “we have our struggles, but we have an incredible community filled with dynamic leaders, dedicated people who really love their cultural identity. We have our challenges, like many ethnic groups: how we remain Greek but also remain American> How do we remain Orthodox and also good Americans? It is something we struggle with, but we are a very strong community and I believe in the end we will be ok.” The native New Yorker lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife, Anastasia, their four children Alexander, Konstantina, Stylianos, and Michael Jr., and his godson Joshua.