Award-winning Creator of Acclaimed Netflix Series ‘The Diplomat’ Recognized for Bringing the Art of Diplomacy to Life and Life of Diplomacy to Art

Washington think tank advocating “vigorous diplomacy” recognizes executive producer/showrunner Debora Cahn with annual award

WASHINGTON, DC — The Quincy Institute (QI) has awarded Debora Cahn, creator and showrunner of Netflix’s The Diplomat, with the 2023 Quincy Award for Responsible Statecraft in recognition of the show’s impact in informing a broad public about the hard and essential work of diplomacy. 

Debora Cahn, creator of The Diplomat, accepts the 2023 Quincy Award for Responsible Statecraft.

The award, given annually on QI’s launch anniversary, celebrates people whose work advances the organization’s founding mission of promoting ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.

The Diplomat depicts efforts to resolve geopolitical conflict through words, not war, in a deservedly heroic light, and the Quincy Institute is excited to recognize this achievement with its 2023 Quincy Award,” Quincy Institute CEO Lora Lumpe said. “At a moment when our nation is faced with multiple transnational challenges which require committed and creative diplomacy, The Diplomat should be required viewing.”

The show centers on the efforts of Kate Wyler, an American foreign service officer-turned-Ambassador to the U.K., to unwind a global crisis involving a false flag attack.  In one of the series’ most striking scenes, Kate’s husband Hal, also an ambassador, makes a major speech taking on what he calls “one of the boneheaded truisms of foreign policy…that talking to your enemies legitimizes them.” Instead, he counsels, “Talk to everyone. Talk to the dictator, and the war criminal…Fail, and fail again. Brush yourself off, and fail again. Because maybe…” 

“The ‘maybe’ left unsaid in this scene — but reinforced throughout the show — is that diplomacy and engagement can in fact succeed in preventing conflict and averting disaster,” said Quincy Institute Board Member and former U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering. “Efforts to forestall or prevent conflict through diplomacy are increasingly cast as weakness or appeasement. The sort of difficult, creative diplomacy that’s required to resolve conflicts and win lasting peace requires great strategy and courage, and should be encouraged,” he added. 

“It’s a huge honor to receive this recognition from the Quincy Institute,” said The Diplomat’s Debora Cahn. “Diplomats are the front line. First in, last out. Before we send soldiers, we send diplomats. They end wars and stop them before they start. Their stories are inspiring and hair-raising, and we don’t even know their names. It’s been a thrill to inspire so much enthusiasm for their work.”

Cahn has been Emmy Award-nominated for her work and honored by the Writers Guild of America for her writing on multiple series.  Her previous credits include much lauded series including The West Wing, Homeland and Fosse/Verdon.

The Quincy Institute was founded in December 2019 to move U.S. foreign policy away from an overreliance on the use of military force and toward greater reliance on diplomacy. The institute and the award are named after John Quincy Adams, the nation’s sixth president, a two-term member of the House of Representatives, and one of the nation’s most accomplished diplomats. The award is conferred to Members of Congress, diplomats, leaders of movements or organizations, artists, journalists, philanthropists, or others who effectively promote ideas that advance QI’s work to make peace the norm for the United States and war the exception. It is granted without regard to the awardee’s political ideology, in keeping with QI’s transpartisan nature.

The first Quincy Award in December 2020 went to Rep. Barbara Lee for her lone vote against an open-ended authorization for war against terrorism, and for her tireless efforts to repeal that authorization.  In December 2021, the institute recognized Senators Christopher Murphy, Mike Lee and Bernie Sanders, and Representatives Jim McGovern and Peter Meijer for championing legislation that would implement a vital rebalancing of war powers between Congress and the executive branch. In December 2022, the Quincy Institute recognized Rosie Torres, Captain LeRoy Torres, and the organization they founded together, Burn Pits 360, for their advocacy requiring healthcare for American veterans exposed to toxic burns pits in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pictures from Debora Cahn’s Acceptance of the QI Award, New York City, February 2024: