Gandomi plays key role in U.S. efforts to counter African extremist group

Tuesday - 7/29/2014, 12:49pm EDT

Listen to an interview with Johnathan Gandomi, National Security and International Affairs Medal Finalist, on Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

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One of President Barack Obama's top national security goals since 2010 has been to counter the efforts of The Lord's Resistance Army, one of the oldest and most brutal extremist groups in Africa. LRA has murdered, kidnapped and maimed thousands, plundering villages and turning captives into servants, fighters or sex slaves.

Jonathan Gandomi, the former field respresentative for the Counter-Lord's Resistance Army Mission at the State Department, played a key role in the U.S. counter-LRA strategy.

"He was willing to go into dangerous places under difficult circumstances to get this work done and really make a difference," said Peter Quaranto, the State Department's special assistant for LRA issues. "He is a very good listener and effective at bringing people together, whether he is working with an ambassador or a civil society leader, a local priest or someone who has just defected from the LRA."

U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Scott DeLisi said Gamdoni worked on the frontlines "building bridges among many different elements in the struggle against the LRA so that they recognized their shared interests and were able to create an effective, cohesive team headed toward a common goal."

For his work in coordinating U.S. efforts against the LRA, the Partnership for Public Service recently named Gandomi as one of the finalists for the 2014 National Security and International Affairs Medal. The award honors a federal employee who a significant contribution in the areas of national security and international affairs. These areas include defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade.

Getting to know Jonathan Gandomi

Federal News Radio asked each of the Sammies finalists five questions about themselves. Here are Gandomi's responses:

What three words best describe your leadership philosophy?
Lead by example.

What's the best piece of advice (or words of wisdom) you've ever received and who gave it to you?
If you want something in life you are going to have to work hard for it. (Mom)

Who is your greatest role model and why?
Gandhi. He changed the world and did it on his terms.

What's the last thing you read and what's next on your reading list? The last book I read was "The Humans" (Matt Haig), next up is "The Rebels' Hour" (Lieve Joris).

What would be the title of your autobiography and why?
"From Kazakhstan to Kabul to Kampala — a wanderer's search for world peace."

The National Security and International Affairs Medal is just one of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies) presented annually by the Partnership for Public Service. View a photo gallery of all the Sammies nominees.