Freshly arrived in Atlanta, Mr. William De Baets, who was Counselor at our Embassy in Washington, stepped into Mrs. Geneviève Verbeek’s shoes on April 1st. No joke.
After 41 years in the diplomatic world, Geneviève retired at the end of March, happy to end her career in Hotlanta, a city that captivated her. She made many friends in our Belgian community and she will be missed.
I had the pleasure to meet William to introduce him to beATL. We had a nice chat about what beATL does for the Belgian community, but we also approached the spicy Delta topic, our 21st of July festivities and other little items on my agenda.
So let me tell you a little bit more about William. Born in Ghent, having moved to Gistel, he attended Onze-Lieve-Vrouwecollege in Oostende, Koninklijke Kadettenschool in Laken and the Royal Military Academy in Brussels. After a Navy Officer career, he joined the Belgian diplomatic service in 2000. Fluent in French, Flemish, English and Spanish, he has been based in Côte d’Ivoire, Venezuela and Ethiopia before going back to Foreign Affairs in Brussels as Head of the Crisis Center and B-FAST. He joins us from his last posting in Washington. His wife María Jesús is from Granada, Spain, and she will join him in Atlanta early July with their three children: Edith [by then 11], Manon  and Lucas .
William is a dynamic and very open person while being a good listener. With too little time for sports, William is an amateur musician with a predilection for piano and trombone. Grand amateur of classical music, he loves opera.
Awaiting his family, he dedicates himself to mastering his new role, with the disappearance of the direct Delta flights to Brussels as high priority on his agenda. Early July he hopes to show the fabulous and thriving Beltline to his family while he is under the impression that his kids will rather lead him to Coca-Cola World instead.
On behalf on beATL and its beATLes, I want to welcome William and his family, wishing them all a fabulous and fructuous time in Atlanta, and William in particular a successful and memorable next step his career.
And I take the opportunity to wish Geneviève a happy and healthy new life with her family and friends but more specifically with her first baby grand-daughter who makes her so proud.