David Duckenfield is accustomed to visiting Ransom Everglades in one of his dual roles: RE parent and trustee. On Nov. 5, he arrived to the upper school in a very special capacity: as an armed forces veteran and devoted public servant.
A U.S. Army captain, American diplomat and member of the U.S. Department of State during the Obama administration, Duckenfield addressed upper school students during an assembly at the Lewis Family Auditorium in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Introduced by son Diego Duckenfield-Lopez ’20, he shared his family’s long history of military service and encouraged students to be active in the affairs of their nation and communities.
David Duckenfield’s fifth great grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War. His grandfather was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in World War II.
David Duckenfield, who attended Dartmouth College and later Johns Hopkins University, and his brothers, Pace and Tom, entered military service through Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs at their colleges. David Duckenfield described his time in ROTC and the Army “eye-opening and life-changing,” saying he learned about integrity, personal courage, teamwork, discipline, honor and prioritizing the welfare of others.
“Serving this country and our institutions is what gives me hope and inspiration,” he said. After taking the foreign service exam to become a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, he served in Mexico and Colombia – posts he described as “the thrill of a lifetime.” He later worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs.
“As a diplomat,” he said, “it was always clear to me our strength came from our moral compass and the example it set for the world.”
David Duckenfield, the current president of Balsera Communications and also the parent of Santiago Duckenfield-Lopez '22, concluded his talk by urging students to live out Paul Ransom’s ethic of leaving the world better than they find it.
“Our democracy is not a spectator sport,” he said. “It is in fact a participatory exercise. You don’t have to wear a uniform to serve your country.”
He received a standing ovation.
Students also stood to recognize RE veterans Myriam Gollan (U.S. Navy) and Marc Buller (U.S. Coast Guard).
Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The mission of Ransom Everglades School is to provide an educational environment in which the pursuit of honor, academic excellence and intellectual growth is complemented by concern for the physical, cultural and character development of each student. The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.