FSGB Case: When “there were no mitigating circumstances” considered despite conditions identified by MED

 

Via FSGB: FSGB Case No. 2019-034, July 2, 2020
Held – The Board found that the Department of State (the “Department” or “agency”) did not establish cause to separate the charged employee from the Foreign Service because the Deciding Official (“DO”) did not consider evidence of his personality problems as a mitigating circumstance. The Board was persuaded by evidence in the record that the agency should exercise its authority to initiate, as an alternative to separation, the option of a disability retirement, pursuant to 3 FAM 6164.3(a).
Case Summary – The Department charged the employee with Improper Personal Conduct based upon a pattern of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct toward colleagues, primarily hundreds of unwanted emails and text messages with sexual content. The Department’s Bureau of Medical Services (“MED”) had conducted a mental health evaluation of the charged employee and concluded that “to a reasonable degree of certainty,” the charged employee exhibited “behavior or symptoms (which may not rise to the level of formal diagnosis) of an emotional, mental or personality condition that may impair his reliability, judgment or trustworthiness.” The DO determined that the charged employee committed the charged offenses and that there were no mitigating circumstances. In finding no mitigating circumstances, the DO attested in the separation hearing that she did not take into consideration either the charged employee’s emotional, mental or personality condition that MED identified or the charged employee’s emails to coworkers that included references to his communications with divine beings as well as references to his own possible mental illness. The DO notified the charged employee of her proposal to separate him from the Foreign Service and provided him the opportunity to reply in person or in writing. The DO recommended separating the charged employee to promote the efficiency of the Service. The charged employee did not respond in person or in writing to the DO’s notification of her proposal to separate him from the Service recommendation or participate in the separation hearing. The Board found the Department did not establish cause to separate the charged employee because the DO did not consider the so-called Douglas Factor #11 on the agency’s checklist that relates to mitigating circumstances surrounding personality problems, and did not exercise the agency’s authority under 3 FAM 6164.3(a) to initiate a disability retirement on behalf of the charged employee as an alternative to disciplinary action.

[…]

We do not claim medical or psychological expertise, but, in our perusal of the record, we found indicators that the charged employee was described as exhibiting personality problems, and possibly more serious mental impairment or illness, from the emails and text messages he sent to former colleagues. For example, in specification 84, the charged employee is charged with offering to help Ms. B draft a complaint and get himself fired and committed to a mental hospital for the rest of his life. Also, in specifications 86 and 87, respectively, the charged employee is alleged to have first made reference to someone wanting him to commit suicide, then later noted asking God if his wife would commit suicide and informing Ms. D that the Virgin Mary told him to inform Ms. D that he knew she was worried that he might kill himself. Further, the charged employee displayed unusual behavior when he emailed Ms. B on June 6, 2017 at 8:31 p.m. that he had declined to see a psychiatrist before consulting attorneys about his options to file a lawsuit.11 That suggests the possibility that someone raised with the charged employee the matter of seeking a psychological consultation or examination.
In addition, DS ROI #1 included a statement by the charged employee’s wife that she believed her husband suffered from mental impairment, requiring medical treatment. The record further contains evidence, according to the spouse, that MED had conducted a thorough mental health evaluation of the charged employee on four separate dates. Similarly, DS ROI #2 concluded that the charged employee had expressed that he heard voices and instructions from God, the Devil, and the Virgin Mary. (See Specifications 6-8, 25, 29, 38, 76 and 87).
[…]
In the instant case, while the agency has provided credible evidence that the charged employee’s conduct does not promote the efficiency of the Service, we find the decision falls short on consideration of so-called Douglas Factor #11 on the agency’s checklist that relates to personality problems as a mitigating factor. We also credit the charged employee’s 19 years of distinguished service before his display of conduct that gave rise to the LOR and the proposal to separate him from the Service.12
Moreover, the Board is unaware of a requirement that a DO must be privy to private medical information or be a medical professional to initiate an application for disability retirement. To the contrary, under 3 FAM 6164.2-3, HR/ER, in consultation with MED, can initiate an application for disability retirement on behalf of an employee if, inter alia, 1) the agency has issued a proposal to remove the employee, 2) the agency has a reasonable basis to conclude that illness may be the cause of the employee’s conduct which renders him unable to work satisfactorily, or 3) the employee is incompetent and there is no guardian willing to file an application on the employee’s behalf. The existence of any one of these three conditions is sufficient for the agency to initiate an action for disability retirement, and the Board finds that the conditions in 1) and 2), supra, are apparent in this case.
Accordingly, the Board is of the view that the agency has not considered all mitigating factors before recommending separation for cause and has not exercised its authority to initiate, as an alternative to separation, the option of a disability retirement for the charged employee where grounds for such a retirement are apparent on the record. Pursuant to 3 FAM 6164.3(a), MED then would determine whether the charged employee is incapacitated for useful and efficient service, which is the standard for disability retirement.

@StateDept Did Not Comply With Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Requirements

 

Via FSGB: FSGB Case No. 2018-003
HELD – The Board granted grievant’s appeal, finding that the U.S. Department of State (Department) did not comply with the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) when it failed to provide grievant with a reasonable accommodation for her disability. The Board directed, among other things, that the parties engage in the interactive process required under the ADA to determine a reasonable accommodation.
SUMMARY – Due to a lengthy illness with cancer grievant, while serving on a limited noncareer appointment in the consular skill code, did not receive an Employee Evaluation Report (EER) from an overseas posting. A Commissioning and Tenure Board (CTB) deferred a decision on tenure until she was able to be appraised on her performance at an overseas posting. The Department assigned grievant to an overseas posting to enable her to receive such an EER. However, as a consequence of her chemotherapy, grievant experienced neuropathy in her hands, and she developed an allergy to nickel. Accordingly, she requested that she be permanently reassigned assigned to the economic skill code, which she said would require handling a smaller volume of materials. The Department denied that accommodation request but did provide her with special office equipment that it said would address her nickel allergy. Grievant continued to experience neuropathy during her overseas assignment and was medically curtailed from post without receiving an EER. As a result, her next CTB recommended that she not receive tenure, and the Department terminated her appointment. The Board held that the Department failed to meet the requirement under the ADA and Department regulations to engage with an employee with a qualifying disability, such as grievant, in an “interactive process” to determine a reasonable accommodation. Although grievant’s request to be permanently reassigned to another skill code would be a “last resort” under Department regulations, that did not relieve the Department of the duty to consider other options such as assigning grievant to positions in the consular skill code that did not involve processing large numbers of passport and visa applications. Further, the Department had an ongoing duty to find a reasonable accommodation when it became clear that the accommodation it did provide was not effective. Accordingly, the Board directed that when grievant was cleared medically to serve in an overseas posting, the parties engage in the interactive process to identify an effective accommodation for grievant’s disability.

 

Retired Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Receives Georgetown Award for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy

 

On February 12, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (Ret) receives the 2020 J. Raymond “Jit” Trainor Award for Excellence in the Conduct of Diplomacy at Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Previous Trainor awardees include , , and .
Amb. Thomas Pickering formally introduced Amb. Yovanovitch and discussion moderator Amb. William Burns, President of . See video of her lecture below:

DACOR Bacon House Foundation Announces 2019-2020 Graduate and Undergraduate Scholarship Awards

 

On December 20, 2019, the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, a 1700-member association of foreign affairs professionals based in Washington D.C. announced the 2019 graduate and undergraduate scholarship awards. Foundation President Paul Denig’s announcement includes over$110,000 in graduate fellowships and over $95,000 in undergraduate scholarships as part of its annual education awards program. “The awards will benefit students currently enrolled or soon to enroll in graduate and undergraduate degree programs at 28 colleges and universities throughout the nation.”
The eleven 2019 recipients of the $10,000 DBHF Graduate Fellowships for the Study of International Affairs are currently enrolled in the second year of their master’s degree programs:
  • Samuel Ginty at The Fletcher School at Tufts University
  • Tamara Glazer at The Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago
  • McKenzie Horwitz at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies
  • Hunter Hilinski at Colorado State University
  • Caitlin Keliher at the Kennedy School at Harvard University
  • Emma Myers at NewYork University
  • Emmett Orts at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies
  • MatthewR. Quan at the University of Southern California
  • JoAnna Saunders at American University’s School of International Service
  • Elizabeth Wright at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs
  • Anelise Zimmer at YaleUniversity
The Gantenbein Medical Fund Fellowship, a combined award of $30,000 ($25,000 tuition and $5,000 stipend) was awarded to Samuel Ficenec for the 2019-2020 academic year at Tulane University School of Medicine.
Recipients of the $6,000 DBHF Metro Scholarships to encourage the study of foreign affairs are currently enrolled at five universities. They are:
  • Sagar Sharma at George Mason University;
  • Virgil Parker at Howard University;
  • Christine Harris at ShawUniversity;
  • Efrata Wodaje at Trinity Washington University
  • Maya Montgomery at the University of Maryland
The Louis G. Dreyfus Scholarships for dependents of U.S. Foreign Service Officers at Yale University, the Foundation awarded a total of $35,000 to the following Yale students:
  • Adoma Addo
  • Alex Hoganson
  • Sophie Kane
  • Christian Lewis
The Foundation also awarded a $5,000 dependents scholarship to Emily Heimer, a student at The Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT.
In addition, the Foundation provides $40,000 each year through the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Scholarship Program to children of AFSA members whose parents are or were Foreign Service employees.
DACOR is “a private non-profit membership-based organization for foreign affairs professionals, fostering open, informed, and non-partisan dialogue about current foreign policy issues, and supporting the Foreign Service community through fellowship and outreach.” Through its philanthropic arm, the DACOR Bacon House Foundation, DACOR serves as the steward of the historic mansion (also known as the Ringgold–Carroll House and John Marshall House) located at 1801 F Street, NW, Washington D.C. The Foundation annually awards $250,000 in scholarships and fellowships to students pursuing careers in diplomacy, development and international relations.
Click here to read more about DACOR. To read more about their scholarship awards, click here.

Kennedy Center Honoree Linda Ronstadt Knows When Mike Pompeo Will be Loved

 

On December 8, Secretary Pompeo hosted the Kennedy Center Honors Dinner at the State Department. Excerpt from his remarks:

It doesn’t matter which political party we’re from. Art belongs to no party, no class, no gender, no age. It belongs to each and every one of us. This event’s really important. I regret that I couldn’t make it last year. I was worried in Morocco on Thursday I might not make it this year too. (Laughter.) Actually, I got a note from a couple who says, “You need to get on the plane now.” (Laughter.) It’s important because it celebrates something that we’ve all fought so hard for here in America, our prized value to express our views, our beliefs, our freedoms, our ideas. (Also see Think Tank Cancels NATO Conference After U.S. Ambassador Objects to Keynote Speaker’s Participation).
[…]
It won’t surprise you with my time in Kansas that I’m a big fan of Linda Ronstadt as well, an icon of folk and country music. Thirty albums, ten Grammys, a bestselling memoir.

And as a nod to her own ancestry, Ms. Ronstadt released a collection of traditional Mexican songs, which became the best-selling non-English-language album in all of American history.

She’s shared her musical gifts in uniquely impactful ways, including teaching music and dance to the children in Mexico.

Ms. Ronstadt, thank you and congratulations. (Applause.) And I will say my job, as I travel the world – I just want to know when I will be loved. (Laughter.) I just read them. (Laughter.)

Via Variety:


Early in the evening Pompeo, who played host, referred to the lyrics of “When I Be Loved,” one of Ronstadt’s hit songs, saying to the 200 guests gathered, “As I travel the world, I wonder when will I be loved.”

Via CNN:

Later, when Ronstadt had the opportunity to take the microphone, she delivered her response. In front of more than 200 guests, Ronstadt, who has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration, stood up and looked straight at Pompeo’s table and said, “I’d like to say to Mr. Pompeo, who wonders when he’ll be loved, it’s when he stops enabling Donald Trump.”

Besides “I wonder when will I be loved,” Ms. Ronstadt’s numerous hits also include “You’re No Good.”
You’re welcome to sing along to either song.  It’s still a free country; ask BNET to play it for the holidays.

@StateDept’s New “One Team” Award For Employees Includes $10,000 Prize, Certificate, and a Glass Statuette

 

We recently posted about the new ‘One Team’ four-day pilot course at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute (See Foreign Service Institute Rolls Out Pompeo’s Pursuit – A ‘One Team’ Four-Day Pilot Course For “Everyone”). Early last month, DGHR Carol Perez also tweeted about the new ‘One Team’ Award (sorry, the nominations were due on August 29).
In mid-July, the ‘One Team’ Award was official added to the Foreign Affairs Manual. The FAM says that “This annual award recognizes a current employee or contractor who exemplifies the Departments Professional Ethos, a true champion of American diplomacy and servant of the American people.”
This award is open to employees who are in the Foreign Service, the Civil Service, locally employed staff, non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and contractors. It carries a prize money of $10,000 USD, a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, and a glass statuette. Please note that if the awardee is a contractor, he/she will only receive a certificate and letter of recognition both signed by the Secretary of State and provided to the individual’s company, but no monetary award.
A lucky runner-up will also receive a letter from the Secretary of State. The Department employee recipient will have that letter placed into his/her personnel file.
The Foreign Affairs Manual says that the winning nominee will be chosen by a Selection Committee chaired by the Deputy Secretary or his/her representative and including three other committee members designated by the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (Director General). We’ve asked DGHR Carol Perez for the names of the Selection Committee members. Easy question, nothing sensitive, it’s a Pompeo project, and we’ve used please and thanks, you guys. But some folks, you know, pretend we’re just a ghost in space, and can’t hear us. That’s all right, somebody please use a ghost whisperer and let us know who gets the $10K and the glass statuette this year. 

3 FAM 4832.25 The One Team Award

3 FAM 4832.25-1 Description

(CT:PER-952; 07-18-2019)
(State Department)
(Applies to Foreign Service, Civil Service, Locally Employed Staff, non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and Contractors)

a. This annual award recognizes a current employee or contractor who exemplifies the Departments Professional Ethos, a true champion of American diplomacy and servant of the American people. The award recognizes an employee or contractor whose exceptional professionalism, integrity, responsibility and leadership enabled results-producing teamwork, particularly in the face of challenging circumstances.

b. Department employee recipients will receive $10,000, a certificate signed by the Secretary of State, a glass statuette which is a miniature of the large One Team Award, and a letter from the Secretary of State for his/her official personnel file.

c. Contractor recipients will receive a certificate and letter of recognition, both signed by the Secretary of State and provided to the individuals company in appreciation of the contractors performance, in coordination with the contracting officer.

d. A runner up will be selected and will receive a letter from the Secretary of State. For Department employee recipients, the letter will be placed into his/her personnel file.

3 FAM 4832.25-2 Eligibility

(CT:PER-952; 07-18-2019)
(State Department)
(Applies to Foreign Service, Civil Service, Locally Employed Staff, non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and Contractors)

All current Department of State employees serving in the Foreign Service, Civil Service, as Locally Employed staff, or as non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and current contractors are eligible for nomination and consideration. Only employees are eligible to receive the monetary award and statuette. Contractors are not Department employees.

3 FAM 4832.25-3 Criteria

(CT:PER-952; 07-18-2019)
(State Department)
(Applies to Foreign Service, Civil Service, Locally Employed Staff, non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and Contractors)

Selection is based on exceptional leadership by an individual who:

(1) Demonstrates and communicates a clear understanding of the link between individual and team contributions, and the importance of working together with a shared mission and sense of purpose;

(2) Takes ownership and accepts responsibility for his/her actions and decisions, and projects uncompromising personal and professional integrity, as exemplified in the Departments Professional Ethos Statement;

(3) Fosters effective collaboration within and across office, Bureau, and mission lines that produces outstanding results; and

(4) Respectfully guides and supports teams to enable them to overcome challenging circumstances and achieve Department objectives.

3 FAM 4832.25-4 Nominating and Approval Procedures

(CT:PER-952; 07-18-2019)
(State Department)
(Applies to Foreign Service, Civil Service, Locally Employed Staff, non-Senate confirmed political appointees, and Contractors)

a. Any current employee may nominate an eligible individual who they think meets the award criteria.

b. Nominations do not require endorsement or supervisory approval.

c. Nominations should be submitted using the one-page nomination submission form available on the HR/PE website.

d. The winning nominee will be chosen by a selection committee chaired by the Deputy Secretary or his/her representative and including three other committee members designated by the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (Director General). Members of the selection committee must recuse themselves if they have any financial interest in or personal ties to any nominated contractor or contracting company under consideration for the award.

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Congratulations to AFSA’s 2019 Awardees for Constructive Dissent: Anna Boulos, Timmy Davis, and Moises Mendoza

Via afsa.org:

William R. Rivkin Award for a Mid-Level Officer:
Anna Boulos, Consulate Tijuana | While serving in Tijuana, Ms. Boulos challenged Mission Mexico’s consular management over policies that exposed adjudicators to an increased number of Visa Lookout Accountability violations, harming their chances for tenure and promotion. Ms. Boulos requested AFSA’s assistance to advocate for reforms to VLA procedures. As a result of her efforts, the Consular Affairs Bureau’s Visa Office recommended rule changes that have benefited all officers who adjudicate H2 visas in Mexico.
William R. Rivkin Award for a Mid-Level Officer:
Timmy Davis, Consulate Basrah |As Consul General in Basrah, Mr. Davis embodied the best traditions of the Foreign Service and constructive dissent. During the lead-up to the Sept. 28, 2018, decision to suspend operations and evacuate the consulate and its nearly 1,000 staff, and the subsequent carrying out of that evacuation, CG Davis showed courage and conviction in presenting the case for the continued operation of U.S. Consulate General Basrah.
W. Averell Harriman Award for an Entry-Level Foreign Service Officer:
Moises Mendoza, Consulate Matamoros | Mr. Mendoza is honored for his extraordinary two-year efforts to make U.S. Consulate General Matamoros safer by ensuring his colleagues had training in dealing with medical emergencies, at great personal cost. As the consulate has no medical unit and local health facilities are poor, Mr. Mendoza was concerned that colleagues having a medical emergency could die before help arrived. Despite bureaucratic obstacles, he became an emergency medical technician and a CPR instructor in order to make post safer.
It doesn’t look like there are awardees for the Christian A. Herter Award for a member of the Senior Foreign Service(FE OC-FE CA) or for the F. Allen “Tex” Harris Award for a Foreign Service Specialist.
Note that the State Department’s Dissent Channel and USAID’s Direct Channel are unrelated to AFSA’s dissent awards. AFSA states that it welcome any discussion and encouragement of dissent within the foreign affairs agencies, but messages sent through these channels will not necessarily come to AFSA’s attention unless cited in a nomination.
Criteria for the Dissent Awards

The awards are for Foreign Service employees who have “exhibited extraordinary accomplishment involving initiative, integrity, intellectual courage and constructive dissent”. The awards publicly recognize individuals who have demonstrated the intellectual courage to challenge the system from within, to question the status quo and take a stand, no matter the sensitivity of the issue or the consequences of their actions. The issue does not have to be related to foreign policy. It can involve a management issue, consular policy, or, in the case of the recently established F. Allen “Tex” Harris Award, the willingness of a Foreign Service Specialist to take an unpopular stand, to go out on a limb, or to stick his/her neck out in a way that involves some risk. Nominees may or may not have used the formal dissent channel. Recipients receive a trophy as well as a $4,000 cash prize. Click here to read more about what constitutes dissent.

The awards will be presented during AFSA’s annual awards ceremony, which takes place on October 16 at 4:00 p.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room at the Department of State. Please contact AFSA Awards Coordinator Perri Green at green@afsa.org or (202) 719-9700 for more information.

Congratulations to AFSA’s 2019 Awardees for Exemplary Performance

 

Via afsa.org:

 

Award for Achievement and Contributions to the Association:

F. Allen ‘Tex’ Harris
Widely referred to as “Mr. AFSA,” Mr. Harris has made enormous contributions to AFSA over five decades. In 1970, he was instrumental in AFSA’s efforts to become a union. He was a principal drafter of the 1976 legislation that created the Foreign Service grievance system. He served two terms as AFSA president, leading efforts to improve working conditions and to end ethnic, gender and racial discrimination within the State Department.

Nelson B. Delavan Award for an Office Management Specialist:

Katherine Elizabeth Kohler, Embassy Addis Ababa
In addition to her full-time role as an office management specialist, Ms. Koehler simultaneously served as U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa’s de facto full-time staff assistant, and was instrumental in tracking and coordinating multifaceted efforts to support Ethiopia’s reforms. Ms. Koehler led an interagency project to survey Ethiopia’s population to learn how they feel about the U.S. and their country’s reform agenda. As an Equal Employment Opportunity counselor, she trained more than 100 local staff members in EEO rules.

Avis Bohlen Award for an Eligible Family Member:

Laurent Charbonnet, Consulate Frankfurt
Mr. Charbonnet is honored for his “Diplomacy Through Bicycles” program through the consulate community’s Frankfurt Refugee Outreach Committee. Mr. Charbonnet volunteered weekly as a bicycle mechanic at a refugee center in Frankfurt’s Bonames district. This center is home to thousands of recently arrived refugees who rely on volunteers like Mr. Charbonnet to develop survival and self-sufficiency skills.

M. Juanita Guess Award for a Community Liaison Officer:

Michelle Ross, Embassy Caracas
Ms. Ross is recognized for her extraordinary efforts to assist embassy personnel and family members who were evacuated after the Venezuelan government broke diplomatic ties with the United States in January. Ms. Ross, who joined the Caracas Community Liaison Office team in 2018, was a key ally to evacuees during the difficult transition that followed. Ms. Ross worked with all management sections and the Family Liaison Office to facilitate the swift evacuation of 79 Americans and 22 pets.

Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy:

Christopher Gooch, Embassy Baghdad and Nora Brito, Embassy Caracas
Two Palmer awards are given this year due to an excellent pool of nominees.

Christopher Gooch is a forceful advocate for U.S. and universal values who made bold and imaginative efforts to expand democracy, freedom, and good governance during assignments in Iraq and Nepal. In Baghdad, he protected women civil society activists, persuaded the Iraqi government to take action to protect trafficking victims, and helped launch an initiative aimed at resolving the Kirkuk dispute. In Nepal, he crafted a transitional justice strategy triggering the first movement on the issue in four years.

Nora Brito created an informal group of 12 young members of the Venezuelan National Assembly. This group included members from all sectors of the Venezuelan opposition. Ms. Brito used her impeccable language ability, strong relationship-building skills and substantive knowledge of Venezuelan politics to build honest, long-lasting relationships with the group. These interactions provided her, Embassy Caracas and Washington a fresh perspective on the Venezuelan political situation.

AFSA Post Representative of the Year Award:

Lawrence Fields, Consulate Frankfurt
Mr. Fields is recognized for his work at one of the largest posts in the world. Frankfurt had gone without a post representative for an extended period. Mr. Fields revived AFSA’s presence and recruited a USAID post representative and a State alternate representative to serve members’ needs. He created an AFSA email group to keep our members informed of developments throughout the year and launched an “AFSA Corner” column in the CLO weekly newsletter. Remarkably, this is Larry’s second time receiving this award.

 

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At the @StateDept’s International Women of Courage Awards, a Regrettable Lack of Courage

Published 12:15 am EDT

 

Secretary Pompeo (Mar. 7  – Excerpt):

Women of courage exist everywhere. Most will never be honored. They face different challenges, but challenges that still matters. I’ve personally, of course, had this experience as well. I’ve witnessed women service in my time in the military and have been inspired by them in my personal life. My mother, too, was a woman of courage. She was born in rural Kansas. She helped make ends meet while raising three kids. She never managed to get to college, but made sure that each of us had enormous opportunity. You all know women like this. They’re strong. She was dedicated to providing opportunity for me and my siblings, and we didn’t appreciate the sacrifices that she had endured. And she also raised me to be really smart; I met another courageous woman, Susan, my wife, who’s here with me today. (Laughter and applause.)

We all know – I know – from a lifetime of experience that women of courage exist everywhere and they’re needed everywhere. That’s one reason I’ve appointed women to dozens of senior leadership roles here at the place I am privileged to work. From under secretaries to assistant secretaries to non-career ambassadorships, we know here we can’t succeed without empowering women worldwide, and that means we need to make sure that we have women empowered at our department worldwide.

And now it’s my honor to welcome our distinguished guest speaker today, a woman of incredible power and courage, a woman who has been a powerful advocate in her own right. Since becoming First Lady, she’s been increasingly outspoken against the enslavement of human trafficking and sexual abuse of women and girls all around the globe. I know she will continue to be an influential leader, an influential voice who inspires future women leaders like herself all around the world. Please join me in welcoming the First Lady of the United States of America, Melania Trump. (Applause.)  Full Text»

Wow, okay, can somebody please tell the secretary of state that he needs better speechwriters, pronto?!

Also you’ve probably seen the news already about the rescinded award for Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro.  FP reported:

“…the State Department spokesperson said in an email that Aro was “incorrectly notified” that she had been chosen for the award and that it was a mistake that resulted from “a lack of coordination in communications with candidates and our embassies.” “We regret this error. We admire Ms. Aro’s achievements as a journalist, which were the basis of U.S. Embassy Helsinki’s nomination,” the spokesperson said.
[…]
To U.S. officials who spoke to FP, the incident underscores how skittish some officials—career and political alike—have become over government dealings with vocal critics of a notoriously thin-skinned president.
[…]
In the minds of some diplomats, this has created an atmosphere where lower-level officials self-censor dealings with critics of the administration abroad, even without senior officials weighing in.

Our understanding is that posts who submit  nominations for this award are typically required to affirm that they had thoroughly vetted their candidates,  including social media.  The nominations do not happen in secret. Posts actually have to tell their candidates that they’re being nominated otherwise they may not be available when the award is handed out. Posts also have to tell their candidates when they are not selected.

It is likely that we won’t now exactly what happened here until we get to the oral history part many years down the road.

For now, we’re just watching out on who will throw those unnamed lower level officials under the bus, then run them over some more until you see the tire tracks on their souls?

2018 Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award For Amb. Ronald E. Neumann

On October 10, at 4pm, the American Foreign Service Association will honor Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann with its Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award for 2018. Congratulations to Ambassador Neumann!

Ambassador Ronald Neumann delivers remarks at the Economic Leadership Day Ceremony, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 29, 2011. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Via afsa.org:

AFSA proudly announces that Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann will receive the association’s 2018 award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in honor of his distinguished career and lifelong devotion to the long-term well-being of a career professional Foreign Service. Past recipients of this award include George H.W. Bush, Thomas Pickering, Ruth Davis, George Shultz, Richard Lugar, Joan Clark, Tom Boyatt, Sam Nunn, Rozanne Ridgway, Nancy Powell and William Harrop. The award will be presented on October 10 at 4:00 p.m. during a ceremony in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception Room at the Department of State.

Ambassador Neumann was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in California. He earned a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and is a graduate of the National War College. He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

Neumann served three times as Ambassador: to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Before Afghanistan, Ambassador Neumann, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, served in Baghdad from February 2004 with the Coalition Provisional Authority and then as Embassy Baghdad’s liaison with the Multinational Command, where he was deeply involved in coordinating the political part of military actions.

Prior to working in Iraq, he was Ambassador in Manama, Bahrain (2001-2004), Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near East Affairs (1997-2000) with responsibility for North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and Ambassador to Algeria (1994 to 1997). He was Director of the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs (Iran and Iraq; 1991 to 1994). Earlier in his career, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and in Sana’a in Yemen, Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran and Economic/Commercial Officer in Dakar, Senegal. His previous Washington assignments included service as Jordan Desk officer, Staff Assistant in the Middle East (NEA) Bureau, and Political Officer in the Office of Southern European Affairs.

Neumann speaks some Arabic and Dari as well as French. He has received State Department Superior Honor Awards in 1993 and 1990. He was an Army infantry officer in Vietnam and holds a Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantry Badge. In Baghdad, he was awarded the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. Neumann retired in 2007 and serves as the President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, an organization of former senior U.S. diplomats dedicated to improving American diplomacy. At the Academy he has focused particularly on efforts to maintain adequate State and USAID budgets and staffing to enable these institutions to carry out their responsibilities. Ambassador Neumann is on the Advisory Board of a non-profit girls’ school in Afghanistan, the School of Leadership, Afghanistan (SOLA) and the Advisory Board of Spirit of America. He is on the board of the Middle East Policy Council and the Advisory Council of the World Affairs Councils of America.

 

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