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Biden honors 'skilled diplomat' Esther Coopersmith after her death

Coopersmith, a career diplomat and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, served as the U.S. representative to the U.N. among other posts.
Esther Coopersmith attends a flag-raising ceremony at the UNESCO headquarters.
Posted at 10:34 PM, Mar 28, 2024

Esther Coopersmith brought the work of diplomacy to multiple administrations and generations of politicians in Washington, including her work with now President Joe Biden. 

The White House released a statement this week honoring Coopersmith, who President Biden called a "skilled diplomat" and a "genuine bridge-builder." The president called Coopersmith one of his early supporters when he was a 29-year-old candidate for U.S. Senate. 

Coopersmith died on March 26 at her Washington, D.C. home. She was 94. 

President Biden said, "We will miss her dearly."

In Sept. 2009 Coopersmith was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, honored by the organization for her unique ability for "fostering intercultural dialogue," the United Nations body said. 

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Coopersmith grew up in Wisconsin, the children of immigrants. 

"She deeply understood the power of bringing people together for the common good," the White House wrote. 

Last year, the State Department held an event at the National Museum of American Diplomacy, and wrote about it in the "Diplomat Debrief." It highlighted Coopersmith's time as a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly during the Jimmy Carter administration. 

Coopersmith donated items to the museum that represented her work as a diplomat including a framed collage and documents, along with photos. They included an inscribed plate or platter with an illustration of Jehan Sadat, a former Egyptian first lady, and two framed letters from Secretary of State George Schultz from 1985. 

President Biden called Coopersmith a dedicated public servant and "legendary hostess."

She was known in Washington for her efforts to advance women's rights, and worked an advisor to the U.S. Commission to the United Nations Status of Women Commission. 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Wednesday statement, "Words seem inadequate to describe the greatness of Esther Coopersmith. For all my years in politics, I have been in awe of her, as a diplomat, a leader and an iconic figure in our society. She was always bringing people together, whether as a representative to the United Nations, or as a goodwill ambassador to UNESCO, or over dinners at her home." 

Coopersmith leaves behind her family, including her four children and eight grandchildren, the White House said.