2007 Power List: Karen Hughes, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, US State Department

With probably the most important public affairs job in the US, Karen Hughes has the tough task of trying to improve the image of the US around the world amid wide dislike of America's foreign policy. But given her close, long-running ties to President Bush, Hughes, if any-one, has the political muscle to make the State Department bureaucracy more efficient, open, and creative in its com-munications with the outside world. After somewhat of a false start – a 2005 “listening tour” of the Mideast was criticized in some quarters for being culturally insensitive – Hughes this year stepped forward with a public diplomacy plan that emphasizes personal ties between people in the US and the rest of the world, primarily through exchange programs. Now she will be calling upon the business community, NGOs, and other organizations in the private sector to help the US government follow through with the new plan to restore America's image as a place of freedom and opportunity.

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