What do these people have in common: oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, famous actress Isabelle Huppert, French President François Mitterrand, US Navy Admiral Frank Bowman and the director of the mayor’s office for international affairs. ‘Atlanta, Vanessa Ibarra?
They are all recipients of the National Order of Merit (National Order of Merit) awarded by the President of the Republic. Ibarra now holds the rank of knight for his efforts to advance relations between the country and the city of Atlanta.
Ibarra, who worked in the mayor’s office for seven years, said she had to read the email she received three times – and even send it to a friend – to understand she had received the prestigious honor.
“I’m a knight now,” Ibarra said incredulously. “Who is knighted these days in this century? “
Ibarra’s link with France dates back to his childhood. Born in Venezuela, her family moved to the country just after her birth when her father found a job there. His two siblings were also born in France.
“I thought my father was French,” she recalls. “He insisted that we speak French. Even after moving when I was 6, my parents thought it was extremely important to have the French language and school. They kept us in there no matter where we moved, including Mexico and finally the United States.
Ibarra attended Georgia State University, where she studied abroad – in France, of course – and earned her Masters in International Business.
Her professional background led her to work in French trade and investment, before joining the city in 2015. She took up her current management position when her mentor Claire Angelle left the post.
Ibarra said she was proud of her accomplishments in promoting the city’s startup exchange program with the French sister city of Toulouse and Atlanta, having been named a “French Tech Hub” for startups looking to expand. in North America.
“When I look at this medal, I feel an immense sense of pride and respect for what it represents, for the personal journey to get here and I smile because I know that none of the work I have done over the years. years would not be possible without the commitment and support of all who are here, ”she said.
Ibarra received his title of knight during a recent celebration at the residence of the Consul General of France Vincent Hommeril. It was awarded on behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron and Ambassador Philippe Etienne.