AFSA Constructive Dissent Awards

I just saw this announcement from AFSA. This year’s AFSA awards for intellectual courage, initiative, and integrity in the context of constructive dissent will be presented to the following Foreign Service employees who demonstrated the courage to speak out and challenge the system, despite the possible consequences. The announcement says that each will receive a certificate of recognition and $2,500 for their unique actions and courage.

The Tex Harris Award for a Foreign Service Specialist was awarded to Barron I. Rosen, a diplomatic courier based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Honorable mention is also given to three colleagues of Mr. Rosen: Kelli Cook, Kathleen Betso and Eileen School. Mr. Rosen spoke out against unsafe practices which impacted the duties of the couriers assigned to travel to Central American posts. Couriers were required to travel on unsafe cargo planes for up to 20 hours. The cargo company required all the couriers to sign a liability waiver. Mr. Rosen objected to this waiver which would not allow them to bring action against the company in the event of an accident or gross negligence. After considerable persistence on the part of Mr. Rosen, management cancelled the arrangement with the cargo company and the couriers now fly on commercial carriers.

The William R. Rivkin Award for a mid-level Foreign Service Officer will be presented to two separate individuals. Jeffrey S. Collins, a political officer at U.S. Embassy Ankara, and Michael C. Gonzales, Political/Economic Counselor at U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa will each receive the award.

Jeffrey Collins worked hard to improve the protection of human rights in Turkey and to raise awareness of the need to reform and improve the State Departments system of human rights reporting. He challenged both the Embassy leadership and State Department officials on existing policies for meeting with human rights activists, and he made specific recommendations on how to improve the human rights reporting process.

Michael Gonzales worked diligently within the proper channels to rebalance U.S. foreign policy toward Ethiopia to better advance U.S. long-term interests. He challenged the status quo to draw attention to the authoritarian policies of the Ethiopian government despite significant resistance from the State Department and Africa Bureau and succeeded in having his recommendations included in the Embassy’s report to the transition team.

–There were no winners this year of the Harriman Award for a junior-level officer, or the Herter Award for a senior-level officer.

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AFSA Past Award Winners