PODCAST: S2:EP40–Trina Bolton, Sports Diplomacy

Join us for S2:EP40 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Trina Bolton, Program Officer, Sports Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State, sits down with our host, Roy Kessel, to discuss how the United States uses sports as a global diplomacy strategy.

As a program officer in the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Trina Bolton works with U.S. Embassies to manage sports programs and people-to-people exchanges for delegations from every corner of the globe.

These exchange tap into the power of sports to build bridges between Americans and people all around the world and promote inclusion and respect for diversity. Within her portfolio, the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, the flagship espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program, and Sports and Sustainability Initiative have emerged as her key areas of focus.

In early 2016, Trina was on detail with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. She has used this experience to encourage use of sports as a platform to push the Department’s international drug demand reduction efforts. In 2019, Trina took a three-month rotation with the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to address violent extremism in Sub Saharan Africa.

Her inspiration to pursue a Master in Science & Public Policy Management from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College and current work position are rooted in her attraction to global policymaking. After earning a degree in international affairs at George Washington University, Trina grew her knowledge in this arena with a job of three years at the Brookings Institution. Before graduate school, she worked and traveled for Global Atlanta, a journalism firm covering international relations as they apply to Georgia. Originally from Atlanta, the 1996 Olympics and Paralympics first sparked her fascination in the power of mega-sporting events. She has since run with this interest through various projects related to her academic and work capacities. Among her projects in this arena is her co-authorship of, “Bidding for Development: How the Olympic Bid Process Can Accelerate Transportation Development.”

Outside of work in a world sans COVID-19, Trina enjoys jogging with cross country friends, trivia happy hours, DC United games, family trips to Maine, and community outreach activities at her local YMCA. 

The U.S. Department of State leads America’s foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the interests of the American people, their safety and economic prosperity.

Trina Bolton joins our host Roy Kessel on S2:EP40 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast


  • 00:30 Background
  • 05:30 Building bridges with other countries, through sports
  • 09:15 The four key pillars to the sports diplomacy program
  • 12:30 Sports envoy program
  • 17:30 Sport for community on disability rights
  • 19:30 Hands on programs operating through partnerships
  • 24:00 Embassies taking lead on envoy program
  • 29:30 Size of travel budget
  • 32:00 Open call to embassies
  • 33:30 Best way to support their efforts
  • 37:30 Trina as Minister of Sports for United States


Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel

Roy Kessel is the Founder of the Sports Philanthropy Network. Roy has worked in the sports business world for over 20 years including serving as an instructor in Northwestern University's graduate Sports Management Program. Having served as a sports lawyer representing athletes, entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, Roy has extensive experience helping organizations improve their strategy, marketing, communications and leadership development.
Sports Philanthropy Network

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