09.12.136:04 PM ET

Networking in Saudi Arabia

Ambassador’s wife fosters groups of women.

In Saudi Arabia, male diplomats are barred from interacting with the female population. Because of this rule, Janet Breslin-Smith, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James B. Smith, decided to take action. Starting in 2009, she created a network of Saudi women by hosting lunches, dinners, and meetings among Saudi women, female lawyers, and foreign academics. By devoting her time to learning about Saudi society, she added an unprecedented personal touch to her service. Breslin-Smith was previously a professor at the National War College and worked in legislative affairs in the Senate.