NYSE appointment leaves State Department in lurch

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON: The changing of the PR guard at the New York Stock Exchange is also stirring doubts about the State Department's floundering Mideast efforts, as the NYSE job is being filled by America's top public diplomacy official. Robert Zito, EVP of communications at the exchange, will resign before the arrival of Margaret Tutwiler on July 12, according to NYSE sources.

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON: The changing of the PR guard at the New York Stock Exchange is also stirring doubts about the State Department's floundering Mideast efforts, as the NYSE job is being filled by America's top public diplomacy official. Robert Zito, EVP of communications at the exchange, will resign before the arrival of Margaret Tutwiler on July 12, according to NYSE sources.

Tutwiler, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, was appointed as the NYSE's EVP of communications and government relations on April 30.

Due to the upcoming election and Secretary of State Colin Powell's expected retirement, the country's top global PR position is now expected to remain vacant well into 2005.

Tutwiler resigned her post just four and a half months after taking the job and during one of the thorniest weeks in recent US diplomatic memory.

The news came in the midst of an administration-wide effort to stem fallout from widely circulated photos of US troops torturing and sexually humiliating Iraqi troops.

Wes Pedersen, a State Department veteran and director of communications with the Public Affairs Council, said Tutwiler "is leaving at the most inopportune time for State's PR shop.... Her departure will leave a gap in public-diplomacy leadership that will be hard to fill."

Tre Evers, a Florida PR professional who sits on the President's Advisory Commission for Public Diplomacy, downplayed the significance of her departure.

"I think that she got an offer for an opportunity that doesn't come around every year and she made a professional choice," he said. "It's hard to fault that."

Zito was not consulted on Tutwiler's appointment, and it was not known at the time whether he would resign to make room for her.

But Zito's future at the NYSE had been in question ever since the man who promoted him resigned under a cloud. Former chairman and CEO Richard Grasso left the exchange in September over controversy surrounding his $197 million retirement package.

Zito became EVP in February 2001 after serving as SVP of communications since 1994.

Tutwiler will continue in her government role through June 30.

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