Grateful to Serve

J. Brian Duggan’s life of service stands as a tribute to all those who have helped him succeed.

As a U.S. Marine, he defended freedoms won by soldiers past. As a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, he proudly serves the country that granted him an education and the opportunity to have a rewarding career.

J. Brian Duggan says “Everything I have is a product of someone else’s generosity,” Duggan said. “Now I can serve others in an effort to repay so much of what I have been given.”

Times were tough when Brian was growing up. No one in his family had gone to college, and Duggan assumed he wouldn’t have a chance either until he received a partial football scholarship to A&M-Commerce. One-time grants helped cover the rest of his first year expenses.

Duggan didn’t take his benefactor’s generosity for granted, and quickly became involved on campus in the Student Senate and Interfraternity Council. When his football career quickly ended due to an old knee injury from high school, Duggan worried he’d have to walk away from his dream of a college education.

Thankfully, Duggan found support from the university’s advancement office. With the help of Larry Goddard, the director of advancement at the time, Duggan was awarded the Raymond Holliday Scholarship, which paid for the rest of his expenses until graduation.

“Aside from becoming a happily married father of three daughters, receiving that scholarship was the seminal event in my adult life,” Duggan said.

And he has spent every moment since then living a life of gratitude.

Duggan’s attempt to repay the debt he felt to society began after graduation, when he chose to join the Marine Corps as an infantry officer, rather than enter the corporate world. As a Marine, Duggan briefly served in Somalia, and later his unit evacuated U.S. and allied civilians from Rwanda just before the genocide began.

In 1995, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Duggan chose to leave the Marine Corps to attend law school at Texas Tech University. After graduation, he soon got a job at a boutique firm in New York City defending gun manufacturers from product liability suits.

“I did well at the firm, and they loved my work, but I terribly missed public service,” Duggan said. “Once I got the call from the Department of State, it was an easy decision to make. Two months later I was in Washington training to become a U.S diplomat.”

After directing a work visa program in Mexico, and strengthening cooperation with Colombia and El Salvador against international crime, Duggan returned to State Department headquarters in Washington to work on energy issues vital to U.S. strategic interests.

In July, Duggan and his family will take on a new adventure with the Foreign Service when he reports to Embassy Astana in Kazakhstan to serve as the Deputy Political and Economic Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador. It’s an opportunity Duggan attributes to the benevolence of others, an attitude that has followed him across the world as he leads a life characterized by service and gratitude.

“Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ to those who have supported you in life,” Duggan said. “If you’re sincere — and you should be — it never gets old.”