Triumphs of Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and U.S. Embassy Reykjavik Team
“A Strong Relationship Becomes Even Stronger”
June 2019-January 2021
1. Completed a new, $69.9 million-dollar American Embassy, an award-winning example of Nordic design that will serve as a platform for U.S.-Icelandic relations and a display of our enduring friendship and important partnership. This Embassy will be the platform from which many more diplomatic victories flow, as we continue building our U.S.-Iceland relationship.
2. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and his Embassy team quickly identified the threats to embassy personnel at the outset of the COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, the team ensured that there were zero community-transmitted cases of COVID by running several key initiatives in support of Embassy Reykjavik’s health and welfare during COVID-19. Embassy Reykjavik moved quickly to implement best practices to ensure the safety of every Mission employee and their families.
3. Moved all U.S. Mission personnel into the new Embassy facility, ensuring seamless operations before, during, and after the move. This was done in the midst of the COVID19 pandemic. This was accomplished through a great partnership between the U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations, and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and other great partners – a collective victory for America and Iceland.
4. Hosted virtual congratulatory videos by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, State Department Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao, Director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations Tad Davis, Commander of the Sixth Fleet Vice Admiral Eugene Black, and Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Manisha Singh to participate in the opening of the new American Embassy. Secretary Mnuchin’s insightful and inspiring remarks promoted investment opportunities and strengthened ties between Iceland and the United States.
5. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter’s July 4th Facebook video offered a simple but impactful message of patriotism, shared democratic values, and the deep connection between the United States and Iceland. Reaching over 171,000 people, viewership of this video far eclipsed any other social media post in the history of U.S. Embassy Reykjavik.
6. Ambassador Gunter’s congratulatory tweet on President Trump’s historic brokering of the Abraham Accords drew attention to the U.S. government’s results-driven Middle East Peace Initiatives. With an unprecedented engagement of over 73,000 likes and 23,000 retweets, it stands as Ambassador Gunter and Embassy Reykjavik’s most reacted-to tweet. It was retweeted by the President of the United States.
7. Secured and welcomed Vice President Pence’s historic visit to Reykjavik September 4, 2019, to highlight Iceland’s importance in the Arctic, NATO’s efforts to counter Russian aggression, and opportunities to strengthen trade and investment ties.
8. Secured and supported a historic visit at Hofdi House, where the Vice President and Second Lady shared coffee with President of Iceland Gudni Th. Johannesson and First Lady Eliza Reid. The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, security cooperation, Arctic issues, and our shared values.
9. Organized Vice President Pence’s landmark bilateral meeting with Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir at Keflavik Air Base. The Vice President and Prime Minister discussed a wide range of topics, further strengthening the already strong and historic relationship between our two great countries. An iconic photo of the meeting has firmly established itself in Icelandic society as one of the most important photos of 2019.
10. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter led the business roundtable for Vice President Pence and Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson at the historic Hofdi House, including a dozen of U.S. and Icelandic companies. Participants identified specific opportunities to expand trade and investment and the Vice President and Foreign Minister discussed what actions governments could take to help in response, leading to real improvements in the trade relationship.
11. Secured Vice President Pence’s historic engagement with Icelandic media in front of Hofdi House, resulting in widespread press coverage of his visit. The Vice President’s visit to Iceland was the biggest story for days—truly a historic event!
12. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and Ms. Heather J. Wilson hosted 75 Icelandic leaders for a Gala dinner following the historic visit of Vice President Pence. Guest speakers included First Lady Eliza Reid, entrepreneur Ágústa Johnson, and Ms. Wilson. The event was a celebration of the strong bilateral relationship, Vice President Pence’s successful visit, and the empowerment of women entrepreneurship in Iceland.
13. Partnered with the Secret Service and Iceland’s National Police to ensure the safety and security of Vice President Pence. U.S. Embassy Reykjavik worked seamlessly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as we all know that details like this can end a visit before it starts – but confidence, competence, and good relationships go a long way to making things happen.
14. Worked in conjunction with Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh in the State Department’s Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs to host the 2020 Economic Dialogue between the United States and Iceland, held virtually in the setting of COVID-19. Bringing together over a dozen economic leaders and experts, the dialogue was an opportunity to exchange expertise and information that will help our economies grow.
15. Successfully advocated for and delivered a signed Memorandum of Economic Cooperation between our two countries at the 2020 Economic Dialogue. This great success was accomplished through the tremendous leadership of Assistant Secretary Manisha Singh and her team at the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs with their Icelandic colleagues. This Memorandum is a historic and critical next step in continuing the economic relationship between the United States and Iceland.
16. Awarded a $24,999 grant to University of Iceland to initiate the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), part of the White House-led Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) initiative. AWE is designed to empower women entrepreneurs in Iceland to fulfill their economic potential and, in doing so, create conditions for increased stability, security, and prosperity for all.
17. Hosted U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry October 10 – 12, 2019. Secretary Perry discussed the economic and energy potential of the Arctic region, and engaged with numerous Icelandic economic and energy stakeholders, demonstrating continued U.S. commitment to Iceland.
18. Introduced U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir on October 10, 2019, for a discussion on Arctic affairs and cooperation on energy and scientific research.
19. Arranged Secretary Perry’s participation as a keynote speaker at the 2019 Arctic Circle Assembly, enabling thousands of influential leaders and experts to learn first-hand about U.S. Arctic policy. “By any measure, the Arctic region is brimming with the incredible opportunity of economics and its energy potential,” he said in remarks delivered at the event.
20. Showcased Iceland’s exceptional geothermal energy prowess and potential by organizing a tour of the HS Orka geothermal plant for Secretary Perry. Secretary Perry witnessed firsthand Iceland’s groundbreaking geothermal technology and shared his vision of a pathway to sustainable energy solutions for both our countries.
21. Hosted Admiral Robert Burke, Commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa and Joint Forces NATO Allied Commander for his October 30 – 31, 2020 visit to Iceland. The visit supported the New Arctic Strategy. During the visit, Admiral Burke toured Keflavik Airbase, received a dinner-briefing with the Embassy country team, and took the opportunity to interact with Iceland’s new Chief of Defense, Bryndis Kjartansdottir, and other contacts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
22. Hosted Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski to speak at the October 10 – 12, 2019 Arctic Circle Assembly. Senator Murkowski, co-chair of the U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus, is a tremendous leader for Alaska and leads for the United States on the Arctic, sustainable exploration, and indigenous peoples.
23. Assembled the largest-ever U.S. delegation, made up of over 250 U.S. state and federal officials, to the Arctic Circle Assembly October 10 – 12, 2019.
24. Ambassador Gunter delivered introductory remarks at the Arctic Circle Assembly for National Science Foundation Director Fran Cordova. Ambassador Gunter highlighted U.S. science investments in the Arctic to an influential crowd of leaders and experts.
25. Spearheaded diplomatic engagement between U.S. National Park Service and relevant Iceland ministries to create a Memorandum of Understanding between Iceland and the United States (currently being finalized and awaiting signature). America is the leader in sustainable tourism, and we want to share this expertise with our friends here in Iceland.
26. Secured exchanges of Icelandic park rangers to both New River Gorge and Olympic National Parks in October of 2019. Representatives from Icelandic national parks learned about park management and the U.S. national park system to inform ongoing preparations for an Icelandic National Park Service.
27. Hosted U.S. National Park Service Deputy Chief for Public Risk Management Jennifer Proctor at a program for Icelandic park rangers in November 2019 at the Environmental Ministry and Thingvellir National Park. The training was a great way to learn strategies to address visitor safety concerns given increases in Iceland´s tourism sector over the past decade.
28. Launched the first-ever Defense Attaché Office at Embassy Reykjavik, bringing on Navy Commander Jason Neal and a civilian Operations Coordinator, making Embassy Reykjavik a full interagency post. The U.S.-Icelandic security relationship is a key pillar of our partnership.
29. Handled over 230 U.S. military and NATO flights, crew exchanges, and overflight requests, contributing to the security of Iceland, the Arctic, and the North Atlantic region.
30. Conducted 15 U.S. ship visits, assisting the U.S. Navy in its critically important mission and strengthening the security of both our countries.
31. Enabled U.S. participation in the September 2019 Northern Challenge Exercise, helping to prepare participants for international deployments and defense against terrorism.
32. Supported U.S. participation in the 2019 Northern Viking Exercise, validating participants’ ability to respond quickly to conflict and emergencies.
33. Enabled U.S. participation in the June 2020 Dynamic Mongoose Exercise, displaying unity and strength that showcases the value of NATO Allies and their unparalleled coordination of their efforts in the High North.
34. Participated in a 2nd Fleet Expeditionary Engagement in September 2019 that furthered our bilateral security relationship.
35. Supported U.S. participation in the September 2020 Northern Challenge Exercise, demonstrating U.S. commitment to working safely with NATO allies even in a pandemic setting.
36. Developed, executed, and implemented project oversight on $92.8 million in infrastructure upgrades at the Keflavik Air Base. These projects will enhance the capabilities of both Iceland and NATO, further securing this critical region.
37. Supported the 2019 U.S. NATO Air Policing Mission that ensured U.S. and North Atlantic security in the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap.
38. Supported the 2020 U.S. NATO Air Policing Mission, further securing the region. The mission also contributed economically to the Keflavik area and all of Iceland.
39. Created two-way information exchange that supported Iceland in graduating from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list” by facilitating high-level meetings with the U.S. Department of Treasury for Ministry of Justice officials in Washington, DC.
40. Welcomed Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson to tour the new Embassy. This facility provides a new, larger platform for partnership that is more commensurate with Iceland’s outsized impact on world affairs and strategic importance.
41. Launched Ambassador Gunter’s Health Diplomacy Initiative in September 2019. This initiative was a critical demonstration of U.S. leadership in health diplomacy that became more important as the COVID-19 pandemic evolved.
42. Supported the cancer wing of the Children’s Hospital, donating iPads and video game consoles for the young patients. The gifts were a demonstration of U.S. friendship to all Icelanders and an acknowledgement that children such as these represent the future and must not be forgotten in the setting of COVID-19.
43. Donated medical equipment that helps medical providers at the Children’s Hospital find children’s veins more quickly and less invasively, decreasing children’s anxiety and pain. This equipment will improve the quality of care for the rising generation of Icelanders and serves as another demonstration of U.S. Health Diplomacy efforts.
44. Acquired a “Skybox” to host patients, their families, and Embassy guests for a Euro 2020 soccer match at the Icelandic national stadium in September 2019. Events such as these demonstrate continued U.S. commitment to promoting the health of every Icelander and U.S. Embassy Reykjavik’s love of Icelandic soccer.
45. Participated in the 2019 Icelandic Interfaith Forum, at which an Embassy representative delivered remarks expressing U.S. commitment to religious freedom. Faith, religious freedom, and democracy are shared values that bind Iceland and America.
46. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and Ms. Heather J. Wilson hosted an event at their residence celebrating the first Sefer Torah in Iceland. Ambassador Gunter inscribed the final letters in the Sefer Torah. The event highlighted the importance of religious freedom.
47. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter, together with the Polish and British Ambassadors, spoke at the first-ever Holocaust Remembrance Event in Iceland, hosted by the Polish Embassy. In his remarks, Ambassador Gunter discussed the U.S. Holocaust Museum and strongly emphasized the importance of not politicizing of the holocaust.
48. Welcomed Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson to a tour of the new Embassy. Following the tour, the Ambassador and the Minister discussed Iceland’s strong fiscal position at the start of the COVID pandemic as well as bilateral issues.
49. Hosted leaders of the Icelandic disability rights organization Orykjabandalag Islands (OBI) at Ambassador Gunter’s residence and led a roundtable discussion, demonstrating continued U.S. commitment to human rights.
50. Partnered with leaders of the Icelandic disability rights organization Orykjabandalag Islands to support their visit to the United States in August 2019 and organized their tour of the White House, which welcomed these great leaders and advocates.
51. Garnered significant positive press coverage of the Icelandic disability leaders’ participation in an International Visitor Leadership Program in August 2019. Press coverage is critical to raising awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities.
52. Awarded a $12,000 grant to University of Iceland to develop a program to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by organizing a disability rights conference in support of human rights issues in Iceland. As Secretary Pompeo said, “We want all people – including persons with disabilities – to have the knowledge, skills, and opportunity to pursue their aspirations, develop their capabilities, compete, and succeed in the 21st century.”
53. Invited and welcomed Transportation Security Administration Administrator David Pekoske for extensive bilateral discussions on aviation security in February 2020 – the first visit to Iceland by a TSA Administrator. Aviation security is critical to both our countries’ security as well as our prosperity.
54. Created opportunities for collaboration in transportation security by introducing TSA Administrator David Pekoske to key figures in Iceland’s Ministry for Transport and Local Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These discussions positively contributed to the bilateral security relationship.
55. Led a roundtable discussion for TSA Administrator David Pekoske. Icelandic leaders from the aviation, transportation, and tourism industries representing both public and private sectors participated in the roundtable, contributing to its success. Discussions centered around the importance of aviation to economic prosperity and ways the United States and Iceland could collaborate for mutual benefit.
56. Welcomed several Ambassadors to tour the new Embassy. Conducted in small, socially distanced groups, these tours offered opportunities to discuss multilateral priorities such as religious freedom, anti-Semitism, and diplomatic best practices during COVID.
57. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and Ms. Heather J. Wilson planned and executed nine military appreciation engagements between members of all the U.S. military branches and Icelandic first-responders, government officials, and members of the diplomatic corps. These events were attended by up to 600 people and held at Keflevik Air Base and at the Ambassador’s residence, contributed to the morale of U.S. servicemembers and demonstrating continued U.S. leadership at Keflavik.
58. Hosted a NATO appreciation event in July 2020 with nearly 300 NATO personnel, including Italians and Danes. U.S. Embassy Reykjavik celebrates the important work carried out by U.S. servicemembers, but this was an opportunity to celebrate the work done by our allies that benefits each and every member of NATO.
59. As part of the COVID-19 response, the Embassy empowered staff to work remotely, becoming the first U.S. embassy in the world to go fully remote and allowing the Embassy’s work to continue safely even in the midst of the pandemic.
60. Upon arrival to the island, the Ambassador established strong relationships with Icelandic healthcare officials, offering support when possible and keeping U.S. policymakers informed of local developments. This has been a fundamental part of U.S. Health Diplomacy throughout the pandemic.
61. Implemented policy and technical solutions to facilitate virtual meeting options for the use of all employees extremely early in the pandemic. The broad suite of tools now available to U.S. diplomats, including teleconferencing applications and equipment, allowed the work of the Embassy to continue even in these difficult times.
62. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter and Ms. Heather J. Wilson hosted the first ever AllAmerican Christmas Party for over 200 guests at Hilton Nordica. The event showcased American Christmas traditions and allowed us to celebrate the holiday with our Icelandic partners.
63. Spearheaded U.S. and Icelandic participation in the 2019 U.S.-Iceland Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC. Embassy Reykjavik thanks Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Murphy for his important leadership on this dialogue. Dialogues such as this are critical to ensuring a robust alliance.
64. Brought together U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons John Richmond and Icelandic Director Ragna Bjarnadóttir at the 2019 Strategic Dialogue, leading to tangible reforms in combatting trafficking and a stronger bilateral partnership. Iceland is working to eliminate trafficking, and the issue is critically important to the U.S.- Iceland relationship.
65. Sent Icelandic officials to USNATO in Brussels for policy tours, providing an opportunity for Icelandic leaders to gain firsthand experience with NATO policy and operations. The tour program is USNATO’s premier briefing program bringing policymakers like parliamentarians, advisors, members of national or regional governments, and civil servants to Brussels for detailed discussions about NATO policies and operations.
66. Led, together with the UK Embassy and the Vardberg think tank, the NATO Talks event at the University of Iceland. The event was a resounding success, with over 100 attendees, significantly higher than any event of similar nature in recent years.
67. Secured a successful Congressional delegation led by Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT) that advanced our security relations. Representative Donald Norcross (D-NJ) also joined the delegation.
68. Secured a successful Congressional delegation led by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), strengthening our bilateral relations. Participants included Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), and Representative Kay Granger (R-TX).
69. Supported a successful Congressional delegation led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (DRI) in October 2019 that advanced the U.S.-Icelandic scientific and environmental relationship.
70. Supported a successful Congressional delegation led by Representative Gallego (D-AZ) in July 2019, focused on strengthening our security relationship with Iceland. Participants included Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Congresswoman Jenniffer GonzalezColon (New Progressive Party, Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico).
71. Led the diplomatic community’s participation in the 2019 Reykjavik Pride Parade. The Embassy’s participation promoted the U.S. policy priority of equal rights for all people.
72. Awarded a $11,000 grant to the Reykjavik Pride organization in 2019 to support their efforts to promote equal rights for the LGBTI+ community.
73. Demonstrated U.S. commitment to LGBTI+ rights during the 2020 Reykjavik Pride event. Human rights are a shared value of our two great countries, and we have sought to work with every Icelandic community.
74. Hosted Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett in August 2020 on the first leg of her first overseas visit since the onset of COVID-19. Secretary Barrett met virtually with the Foreign Minister and others, promoting the new U.S. Air Force Arctic Security Strategy with an eye toward U.S.-Iceland security collaboration, both bilaterally and through the NATO alliance. The Secretary also toured Keflavik Airbase and received a briefing from the U.S. Embassy country team.
75. Initiated partnership with the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California to create the 1986 Reykjavik Summit Video Log, a series of video interviews of Icelanders involved in the summit between President Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. These videos will serve as an archival resource, recording first-person accounts of this historic event for posterity.
76. Launched the American-Icelandic Health Exchange in partnership with the Fulbright Commission to combat COVID and public health challenges. Health diplomacy has been a key priority – friends working together to get through difficult times like these is one more sign of our great partnership.
77. Honored former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir in a video that became one of the mostviewed videos in Embassy Reykjavik Facebook history. Her leadership is inspiring and everlasting.
78. Ambassador Gunter authored an op-ed in April 2020 focused on the COVID-19 response, expressing gratitude for Iceland’s leadership in combatting the pandemic.
79. Ambassador Gunter authored an op-ed in June 2020 on the Fulbright program, highlighting the American-Icelandic Health Exchange. Health Diplomacy is always important but becomes even more so in difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
80. Ambassador Gunter produced and created three Facebook videos to inspire people during the COVID-19 pandemic, garnering collectively nearly 103,000 views and nearly 1,700 reactions. The videos created solidarity between the United States and Icelandic people and inspired many in these difficult times.
81. Hosted the first ever U.S. Embassy-sponsored 9/11 memorial event at Keflavik Air Base. This was the first time the 9/11 memorial event was held at the former site of Naval Air Station Keflavik since the Icelandic government assumed operational control of the site. Speakers included Keflavik Air Base Commander Gudnason, Director General of the Directorate of Defense and Security Arnor Sigurjonsson, and Defense Attaché Commander Jason Neal; Ambassador Gunter read the poem “The Names” by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Attendees included representatives of the diplomatic community, U.S. Navy aircrew supporting P-8 Poseidon missions, and the Embassy team. The event served as a somber reminder of the sacrifices made and the importance of a strong alliance with Iceland and other NATO allies.
82. Ambassador Gunter expressed his appreciation for the Icelandic Coast Guard and first responders in a widely read op-ed that marked the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
83. Secured and supported bilateral meetings in Reykjavik for Governor of Maine Janet Mills to discuss economic development opportunities and strategies to combat climate change, among other topics. Iceland and the United States are historic allies and partners, and it is an honor when we can help strengthen the ties between Iceland and one of our great states.
84. Ambassador Gunter hosted a roundtable for Icelandic startups interested in the U.S. market. The United States has never been a better place to grow a business, and we take every opportunity to highlight the size of the U.S. market and our great business environment.
85. Provided a forum that enabled Alaska-based Environmental Protection Agency expert and Icelandic fisheries officials to explore cooperation in the Arctic. Another example of our two, great Arctic countries working together on common interests in the High North.
86. Introduced MFA Director General Unnur Orradottir Ramette to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington, DC, to discuss improving our trade relationships. Everyday diplomacy like this is key to strengthening of our great trade relationship.
87. Advocated for over a dozen U.S. export-ready companies, continuing to improve the strong trade relationship between our two countries. Icelanders benefit from goods and services offered by U.S. firms and our businesses earn income that allows them to hire more Americans. These engagements are always win-win.
88. Liaised regularly with Icelandic Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials Einar Gunnarsson and Iceland’s Senior Arctic Official Fridrik Jonsson in support of Iceland’s Arctic Council Chairmanship. Embassy Reykjavik applauds Iceland’s great leadership at the Arctic Council.
89. Welcomed Senior Arctic Official Meredith Rubin and a team from the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs to Iceland to take part in the Arctic Council plenary in Hveragerdi. America is a proud Arctic nation. We work with the other seven Arctic states and many indigenous peoples of the region to grow the Arctic economy in a sustainable and transparent way and to maintain this region free of conflict.
90. Hosted Lara Smith and her team from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to take part in the Reykjavík Global Forum Women Leaders at which leaders from government, business and civil society share their insights. The MCC is an independent and innovative U.S. foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. One of MCC’s most important priority areas is investment in the empowerment of women and girls.
91. Welcomed Rear Admiral Michael Curran, Fleet Supply, Logistics, and Ordnance, U.S. Naval Forces Europe/Africa/Sixth Fleet to Reykjavik. Admiral Curran was in Iceland for introductory meetings with Icelandic Coast Guard officials organized by our Defense Attaché and to get a first-hand look at NATO’s resources in the North Atlantic. This was Admiral Curran’s first official visit since assuming his command, a great honor for all of us at U.S. Embassy Reykjavik!
92. The Consular Section supported family members of several American citizens who tragically passed away while visiting Iceland, facilitating their return home and working with clergy to help grieving survivors. It is an honor to help our fellow countrymen in these most difficult of times.
93. During the pandemic the Consular Section assisted hundreds of American citizens with passport and other emergency services, and facilitated emergency travel to the United States for many citizens of Iceland, including applicants in need of life-saving medical treatment and those whose travel was in the national interest of the United States.
94. Helped Americans to register to vote and cast their ballots in the 2020 U.S. elections. Helping Americans in Iceland is a core part of the work of the Embassy and helping them participate in these important elections is an honor and pleasure.
95. Secured engagements for the Icelandic Chief of Defense with U.S.-European Command, Allied Air Command, and U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa for dialogue on NATO’s 2030 Strategic Vision. Our security relationship will endure to 2030 and beyond.
96. Hosted Rear Admiral Andrew “Woody” Lewis, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Navy Second Fleet at a dinner with Icelandic colleagues.
97. Hosted the Keflavik Police Chief at NRTF Grindavik. This is a preliminary step toward a support agreement with Icelandic law enforcement. Dialogues such as this are critical to developing new opportunities for mutual cooperation to benefit both our countries.
98. Hosted the First-Ever “Celebration of Soccer and Education” in July 2019 for approximately 50 Icelandic soccer players entering American universities in the fall of 2019. The event promoted study in the United States and opportunities for athletic scholarships. It featured a presentation by a former NCAA player from Iceland and the Embassy’s Education USA adviser offering tips on the American college experience.
99. Delivered the critically acclaimed duo Quindar, featuring Grammy Award-winning musicians, to Iceland in August 2019. The Group takes NASA audio and film archives and remixes these elements into a musical genre called “Hip Mobility.” Their live musical performance was accompanied by an immersive, responsive video presentation containing iconic and rarely seen digitized archival NASA films. Performing at various venues throughout Iceland, this program offered a valuable opportunity to reach a new and youthful audience and highlight the 60th anniversary of NASA and the 50th anniversary of Apollo astronauts training in Iceland.
100. Brought the American Film Showcase Program to Iceland, featuring American filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee. This program was a collaboration with the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of Southern California and provided an opportunity to honor the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing through film.
101. Brought Emmanuel Vaughn-Lee to the 2019 Reykjavik International Film Festival to promote U.S.-Icelandic cooperation in the field of visual arts and to have discussions on how that genre could be used to promote Arctic issues.
102. Ambassador Gunter and Ms. Heather J. Wilson joined Prime Minister of Iceland Katrín Jakobsdóttir to give opening remarks at the launch of the Leif Eiriksson Center on July 5th, 2020. The Center highlights the voyages of Eric the Red and his son Leif the Lucky, discovering parts of North America. These histories are presented in a new exhibition, consisting of works from ten renowned Icelandic visual artists. Ambassador Gunter´s remarks focused on the importance of the voyages of the Icelanders to America around the year 1000 and on the important connections between Iceland and the United States.
103. Advocated for Iceland’s participation in the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity (W-GDP) Initiative, a U.S. effort that aims to empower 50 million women globally to fulfill their economic potential. The initiative was created and led by Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. Women are a critically important part of any economy, and Embassy Reykjavik has made helping women entrepreneurs a priority in partnership with Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce and others throughout the U.S. government.
104. Launched an Embassy Space Committee, in discussions with NASA and the Department of Commerce, to coordinate and magnify U.S. space diplomacy efforts in Iceland. Space is critically important scientifically, economically, and to our security, and Embassy Reykjavik is at the fore of developing U.S.-Icelandic space diplomacy.
105. Launched Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter’s official government Twitter account. This account allowed Ambassador Gunter to communicate directly with the Icelandic public and to amplify messaging of other Americans. Upon initiation of this Twitter account, many other leaders in Iceland engaged this platform.
106. Penned the 2019 and 2020 Country Commercial Guides and Investment Climate Statements, ensuring businesses and investors in the United States were fully informed of opportunities in Iceland and able to take advantage of these opportunities. These repots are critical to our effort to build prosperity for both our countries.
107. Conducted dozens of meetings with other embassies in Reykjavik, ensuring coordination among NATO allies and other partners.
108. Celebrated the founding of the United States of America by hosting Americans, Icelanders, and other guests from all walks of life for a Fourth of July celebration in 2019.
109. Reestablished a Community Liaison Office, including a monthly newsletter to promote the morale of Embassy staff and family members. Maintaining the happiness and health of the great Embassy team is the key to the wonderful things we have accomplished.
110. Promoted Icelandic efforts to combat trafficking in persons even while advocating for increased protection, prevention, and prosecution efforts. Iceland shares U.S. values on combatting trafficking, and our two countries are working together to stop this scourge.
111. Hosted virtual discussions with the Fulbright Program Executive Board. The Fulbright program is one of our strongest diplomatic efforts aimed at ensuring our historical relationship and strong friendship continues in the rising generation.
112. Launched the Religious Freedom Initiative (RFI) by U.S. Embassy Reykjavik. Through this important program, the Embassy partners with diverse religious leaders and leverages its unique and influential presence in Iceland’s social media landscape to champion shared U.S. and Icelandic values of religious tolerance, religious freedom, and human rights.
113. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter established a tradition of “light lunches.” Initially launched during the long, dark winters, these lunches (and sometimes breakfasts) continued through the summer, as the COVID pandemic threatened both the community and peoples’ sense of community. Taking care of the team is key to leadership.
114. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter traveled to Poland for the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz as part of the U.S. delegation led by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin. We must never forget what happened 75 years ago, when the Nazi regime carried out the systematic extermination of more than 6 million Jews. Nazis targeted innocent Jews solely because of their religious beliefs,” Secretary Mnuchin said. “The United States and all other countries must work together to fight for all religious freedoms, justice for the Jewish people, and combating anti-Semitism wherever it appears. We must be committed to honoring the history of the Holocaust so these atrocities never occur ever again to any people anywhere in the world.”
115. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter joined 15 other Ambassadors and other U.S. officials to attend the Chief of Mission Summit and Space Delegation in Luxembourg in September 2020. Meetings such as this provide opportunities to gain perspective used to hone U.S.- Iceland policy.
116. Ambassador Gunter visited the BSAM Garonne as it was docked in Reykjavik Harbor as part of a North Atlantic Deployment in late September 2019. The Commanding Officer gave the Ambassador and Defense Attaché a personalized tour of the ship with the French Defense Attaché.
117. The U.S. Department of State’s State Magazine featured the embassy move in a January 2021 news article. The article cited that the event would “[strengthen] the relationship between the U.S. and Iceland for generations to come.”
118. Ambassador Jeffrey Ross Gunter, through his Embassy team, donated gift certificates for a local toy store to 45 children displaced by the Seydisfjordur mudslides on Christmas Eve in 2020. The Icelandic Search and Rescue and the Icelandic Red Cross were instrumental in the success of this project, that we hope brought some solace to these victims.
119. Organized a disinformation speaker’s program with Stanford University expert Renee DiResta through Global Engagement Center funding. In Iceland she met with key contacts on the issue of disinformation. The main event was an open lecture in September 2019 at the National Museum of Iceland called “Propaganda 2.0,” and was a look at developing fronts in the information war…and what’s being done to fight back. The event was cohosted by the University of Iceland.
120. Welcomed and sponsored the travel of Neil Armstrong´s son and granddaughter to come to Iceland an participate in the Explorers Festival in Husavik and to participate in a special screening of the film First Man followed by a Q&A with Neil Armstrong´s family. Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, trained in Iceland in preparations for the Apollo 11 mission, and Iceland has a special place in the family’s hearts from their time here.
121. Ambassador Gunter delivered opening remarks at the first U.S. Open Tribute Tennis Tournament in Kopavogur. The U.S. Embassy sponsored part of the rewards and decorations for the event. Tennis Club Kopavogur held the tournament with participation from 100 tennis enthusiasts and professional players to honor the U.S. Open. This was Iceland’s first major tennis event since COVID-19 pandemic began.
122. Welcomed religious leaders from several great faiths to visit the new U.S. Embassy Reykjavik and discuss their views of Icelandic society with the Ambassador and his team. Faith is an important part of life, and promoting and defending religious freedom is a longstanding U.S. priority.