Originally from Michigan, Kristin Grauer has been working in Foreign Services for over a decade. A specialist in business and economics, she has completed tours as an embassy economic officer in Baghdad and Moscow, and as a political officer in Monrovia, Liberia and Cotonou, Benin. In summer 2020, she took the post of Consul General of the United States Consulate of Marseille, a post that changes every four years.
Mrs Grauer is thrilled to be in Marseille, finds the people warm and gracious and describes her first few weeks as “pure pleasure.” She has settled here with her husband and two boys and looks forward to exploring the regions and developing cultural, scientific and especially business relationships between southern France and the United States.
Riviera Insider spoke with the new Consul General in September, to talk about what her position entails and how she can help American citizens.
The US Consulate of Marseille is a full-service consulate for the Southern France region, including Occitane, PACA, Corsica and Monaco. They offer numerous services to US citizens and help cultural and scientific exchanges between the two countries. The Consul General is charged with running the local consulate and acting as a representative for US citizens and businesses in the area.
RI: What is the role of the Consul General?
Kristin Grauer (KG): My role here is to support US interests in the south of France but also to support the work of the Embassy in Paris. The south of France a special and unique place and we are independent enough to create things with a local flavour. So, we take initiatives from Washington but adapt it to what is more relevant to the locals. We also work on other things, such as local French/American diplomacy and sister city cooperation like Miami/Marseille. We do a lot of educational services with study abroad students who come here and we help students here go to the US. We also do a lot of cultural exchanges. I love it when musical groups or sports team come over or when French groups want to go to the US - we help them, too. Any time there is cultural or scientific cooperation between the two countries, we love to get involved for support.
My vision for my time here is to develop better economic partnerships, helping US companies do business here and French companies to do business in the United States.
But mainly, I work for [Americans]. It’s a privilege, it’s an honour and I don’t take it lightly.
What services does the consulate offer?
KG: We offer a wide variety of services, but, as the Secretary of State clearly said, the health and security of American citizens is our number one priority. We will drop everything if an American is in need. So, we really focus on helping Americans.
We can do passports (renewals and replacements), report a birth abroad (birth certificates) and, unfortunately, assistance with death - dealing with personal effects, repatriation of remains and notifying family members. We assist with voter registration and have Federal write-in ballots if your mail-in hasn’t arrived. We visit prisoners if you have been arrested, to make sure your rights are being respected and you’re being treated as well as local citizens. We offer victim assistance if you are robbed or attacked, even domestic violence cases; and missing person assistance, whether someone is lost or abducted. We’ll drop everything for an emergency with an American.
Do Americans need to register with their local consulate?
We don’t have a requirement to register with us but we strongly recommend that US citizens register in STEP, the Smart Traveller Enrollment Program which is found on travel.state.gov. What’s neat about it is that you go online and fill it out once with what countries you’ll be in and approximately when (it’s for travellers and residents) and it will automatically notify the local consulate(s). This way you are notified with important updates, including voting information; travel alerts; security warnings, whether it’s about natural disasters or reported violence. We have a ‘no double-standard’ policy that any security warnings given to us as government employees, we are required to share with US citizens. And STEP is great for anyone travelling, even the backpacker, who would never normally register with a consulate.
How are you settling in the south of France?
It’s wonderful! I spent a few years in Paris and it was great, but my first few weeks here have been pure pleasure. It’s better than I even imagined and I look forward to exploring all of our territories.
American Consulate General Marseille
Place Varian Fry 13006
If you need to contact the US Consulate, visit the website: http://marseille.usconsulate.gov/ or dial 01 42 12 48 85
Facebook Page: @usdos.marseille