Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lithuania's Honorary Consuls: Dennis Garrison

Another installment in our series profiling Lithuania's Honorary Consuls in the United States. Thanks to Aiste Zalepuga who conducted the interviews with each Consul and collected additional materials. 

Dennis Garrison is Lithuania's Honorary Consul in San Francisco. He received his undergraduate education from Illinois Wesleyan University and his graduate degree in business from Illinois State University. Formerly a Certified Public Accountant and college professor, he has worked in the  Sports Club business for the past 33 years.

San Francisco, California is the fourth most populous city in the state and the fourteenth most populous in the United States. Today, it ranks within the top 35 tourist destinations in the world. The large area around San Francisco is also the center of technological innovation and venture capital, including Silicon Valley, home to the world's largest technology companies and thousands of small startups. It is the leader in high-tech innovation and development, responsible for thirty-three percent of venture capital investment in the United States. Moreover, the surrounding area includes some of the world's most highly regarded universities, including Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley, both of which are renowned research centers, which produce highly qualified graduates in technology, medicine, law and business.

A moderately sized Lithuanian community also exists within Northern California, and as Lithuania's Honorary Consul to the region, it is Dennis Garrison's job to promote Lithuanian social and artistic events there. "Right now, we have a growing Saturday Lithuanian language club for children and adults," he informed us. "Opportunities for education, research, and employment are also outstanding. Certainly, this is the best area in the world for innovation in technology related fields. While opportunities for exporting Lithuanian products here are limited, the exchange of ideas and technologies for the development of new products and jobs in Lithuania are available."

Garrison first visited Lithuania in 2001 to assist in the development of the Forum Palace in Vilnius. While there, he traveled to a variety of schools in the country's rural areas and helped to establish summer programs for the children. "My wife and I have developed friendships with over twenty children that we stay in contact with and support whenever we can," he said. "We have hosted Lithuanian college students in our home and traveled to Lithuania often. We have friends in most major cities and many small towns."

Honorary Consul Dennis Garrison and wife, Sally, at a summer camp in Dubingiai, Lithuania
In San Francisco, he works to ensure proper representation of Lithuanian culture. As Honorary Consul, he is also a member of the Consular Corps. In other words, he is responsible for helping to support the Embassy in Washington, DC, the General Consuls in Chicago and New York, and the other Honorary Consuls in the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Often, Garrison finds himself as a liaison between Lithuanian government official and business delegations who visit San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. On a daily basis, his duties range from assisting Lithuanians with any passport issues they may encounter whilst in the United States to researching Americans' relatives and ancestors in and from Lithuania.  "Certainly, I also make an effort to recognize the accomplishments of Lithuanians in athletics, especially basketball," he adds.

Finally, Garrison hopes to continue to assist the government of Lithuania in protecting and aiding its citizens, and people of Lithuanian descent, who live in and travel to the United States. Such an effort includes an administration of  informational sessions to private citizens and companies about the talents, challenges and accomplishments of the Lithuanian people. His final goal is to enlighten Americans to the investment opportunities currently being developed by the Lithuanian government and businesses there.