Taking office this week, the career cultural diplomat will lead France’s wide-reaching support for exchanges in arts, culture, and education in the US
New York and Paris, February 13, 2024 — Mohamed Bouabdallah has been appointed Cultural Counselor of France in the United States and Director of Villa Albertine. He officially took office yesterday in New York City.
Working under the authority of the Ambassador of France in the United States, Laurent Bili, Mohamed Bouabdallah will lead France’s strategy for cultural, educational, and university exchanges in the US. This includes directing France’s expansive education initiatives in the US, such as ‘French for All’, and taking the helm of Villa Albertine, the multidisciplinary and innovative arts institution with hubs in 10 cities across the country.
“Mohamed Bouabdallah is a seasoned foreign service civil servant with significant experience in cultural diplomacy and in multilateral institutions. I have no doubt he is the right person to lead the talented and dedicated teams of the Cultural Services and Villa Albertine in the years to come,” said Laurent Bili on this occasion.
Upon his arrival, Mohamed Bouabdallah noted, “It is with pride and great determination that I step into this position in the magnetic city of New York. The United States plays an absolutely central role in cultural, educational, and intellectual spheres. Our two countries have much to learn from each other, as the most impactful ideas and creative work are built through collaboration and exchange. In this era of compounding global crises, it is our privilege and responsibility as the Cultural Services of the French Embassy to open spaces for international debate, partnership, and mutual learning, to uplift creative solutions, and support the next generation of cultural leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. I can’t wait to start working with our American partners across the country.”
Mohamed Bouabdallah, 45, has held significant roles advocating for French culture on the global stage. Prior to his appointment as Cultural Counselor of France in the United States, he served as Cultural Counselor of France in Cairo and Director of the French Institute in Egypt (2016-2019), and Head of the Political Affairs Department at the United Nations Directorate of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in charge of the Security Council (2019-2023).
An alumnus of Paris Dauphine University, Sciences Po Paris, and the Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA), Mohamed Bouabdallah has worked in several European institutions, including the Delegation of the European Union in Belgrade and the European Parliament. He further served as political advisor to the president of Essonne, a regional authority in the Paris region, and as an adjunct professor at Sciences Po Paris and ENA. In his free time, Mohamed Bouabdallah has been active in social work, contemporary art, and theater. A basketball fanatic, he also practices distance running and desert hiking.
Mohamed Bouabdallah takes office during a period of historic growth and evolution for the Cultural Services, headquartered in New York. In 2021 the French Embassy launched Villa Albertine, an arts institution which imagined an innovative residency program that invites over 50 international creators and cultural professionals to engage in exploratory residencies across the US each year.
In addition, during his 2022 State Visit, French President Emmanuel Macron announced ‘French for All’, a new initiative that supports the expansion and enrichment of French language education and bilingualism in the US from kindergarten through higher education. Further, the Embassy has taken significant steps in the past years to grow its partnerships and exchange programs with many of the largest and most prestigious universities in the US, while consistently expanding its reach to new student bodies, including community colleges. As Cultural Counselor of France in the United States and Director of Villa Albertine, Mohamed Bouabdallah will continue to build these key initiatives and chart the future for France’s action on the American cultural and education scenes.