Foreign Service Grievance Board Annual Report 2020-Statistics (3/1/21) – Updated

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Update 3/30:  A source with insight into the FSGB process informed us that  the new metric starts counting the days when the file is complete and ready for adjudication.  Prior to file completion, processing times depend heavily on how promptly the grievant and agencies provide documentation.  It appears that the FSGB want to focus on the period that is totally under the FSGB’s control.  That’s understandable but that does not give a full picture. The source agreed that it would have been useful to also report the total processing time as previously calculated. There’s no reason why FSGB can’t include the processing time from ROP closure to decision, as well as the total processing time as it has done in the past. We also learned that to keep cases moving forward during the October 2020 to mid-February 2021 staffing gaps, the remaining 11 FSGB members reportedly had to increased their case work hours on average by about 21 percent. Some cases were also reportedly judged by two-member panels instead of the usual three-member panels. 

Last December, AFSA called on then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to fulfill his statutory responsibility (22 U.S.C. 4135b) to make appointments to the Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB). Eight seats on that board have been vacant since October 1 due to inaction on their nominations. “The nomination paperwork was transmitted to Secretary Pompeo’s staff on or before August 28, 2020, giving him at least four weeks to act prior to the September 30 expiration of the terms of office of the eight positions. If Secretary Pompeo had adverse information on any nominees, he could have allowed the Foreign Service agencies and AFSA to submit replacement nominations prior to September 30. Unfortunately, Secretary Pompeo has taken no action over the past three months.”
In the March 2021 issue of the Foreign Service Journal, AFSA Retiree Representative John Naland wrote that  “Secretary Pompeo left office without acting on the nominations, leaving it to his successor to fulfill that responsibility. Secretary Antony Blinken did so within two weeks of taking office. Perhaps by the time a future historian finds this column, Secretary Pompeo will have explained his failure to act. But my impression today as the AFSA Governing Board member charged with overseeing the annual FSGB nomination process is that Secretary Pompeo’s dereliction of duty was of a piece with the arrogance and contempt for the rule of law that he frequently showed to committees of Congress, the media and others. Secretary Pompeo’s passive-aggressive evisceration of the FSGB deserves to be recorded and remembered.”
Lawrence C. Mandel, the Chairperson of the Foreign Service Grievance Board issued the Annual Report for 2020 on March 1, 2021. The report notes that staffing was complicated by delay in the re- appointment of the Board’s Senior Advisor and two annuitant members, and the delay in appointment of five new Board Members, resulting in vacancies of nearly half of their members over the final three months of the year. Members of the Board are appointed for terms of two years by the Secretary of State.
The Annual Report says that despite these staffing challenges, “the Board closed 66 cases – almost as many cases as in 2019 (69). The average time to issue decisions was 66.9 days after closure of the Record of Proceedings (ROP).”
Whoa, whoa, wait, “the average time to issue decisions was 66.9 days after closure of the Record of Proceedings (ROP)?”  That got our attention. Based on the previous annual reports, the disposition of a case was measured from the time of filing to Board decision (or withdrawal/dismissal); not from when decisions are issued after closure of the ROPs.
In 2019, the disposition of cases, as we normally understood it, took 57 weeks, which would have been 399 days. In 2020, the average time is 66.9 days which is just 9.5 weeks. See below:
2020: Average time for disposition of a case, from closure of Record of Proceedings to Board decision was 67 days 
2019: Average time for disposition of a case, from time of filing to Board decision, withdrawal, or dismissal, was 57 weeks. A number of older cases were closed this year, including some that had to await decisions in other fora. Additionally, fewer cases were settled and withdrawn this year, which increased the average time for disposition.
2018: Average time for disposition of a case, from time of filing to Board decision, withdrawal, or dismissal was 41 weeks. Excluding three cases that were significantly delayed by extraordinary circumstances, the average time for disposition was 38 weeks.
2017: Average Time for disposition of a case, from time of filing to Board decision, withdrawal, or dismissal was 41 weeks.
2016: Average Time for disposition of a case, from time of filing to Board decision, withdrawal, or dismissal was 39 weeks.
So we asked the FSGB about this new way of describing the average time of disposition of FSGB cases.  The new way of describing duration of cases is not from time of filing, but rather from when a decision is issued after closure of the ROPs.
We also wanted to know what impact the 3 month delay in appointing/reappointing eight seats to the Board affected the processing of their cases.
We received a brief response that says in part, “We allow the FSGB Annual Report, as submitted to Congress, to speak for itself.”
Help alert! That is, we need help to understand stuff. We still can’t understand the way they calculate the disposition of a case. Counting from closure of ROPs to Board decision does not tell us the actual duration of cases, does it?
Good news though; at least they do not have an email chewing doggo over there!

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@StateDept Updated Assignment Restrictions Regs in 2020, Also Where’s the Preclusion Data?

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Last week, Politico published a piece about hundreds of people of color at the State Department handed “assignment restrictions” due to concerns over split loyalties or being susceptible to foreign influence. See Foreigners in their own country: Asian Americans at State Department confront discrimination. In 2017, The Foreign Service Journal published In Pursuit of Transparency in Assignment Restriction Policies by FSOs Christina T. Le and Thomas T. Wong who at that time were the current and past presidents of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association (AAFAA). Excerpt below:

Employees’ concerns regarding the assignment restrictions process were plentiful: it was unfair, lacked transparency and was based on ethnic origin or family heritage. Our advocacy to the State Department on the issue began in 2009 and continued in earnest through 2016.

The case was framed by input from countless numbers of employees who came to us expressing real frustration, disillusionment and anger over the lack of transparency and accountability in the process. In some cases, the department had prioritized hiring these officers because of their language skills, only to turn around and preclude them from using those valued language skills overseas.

While assignment restrictions affect many State department employees of different backgrounds, we accumulated substantial anecdotal evidence that it has disproportionately affected employees of AAPI descent. Our data suggested assignment restrictions were levied with race as a factor, with disregard for mitigating circumstances and even based on incorrect facts.

According to the authors, the efforts to confront these issues went back many years: “Mariju Bofill first raised the issue with the Secretary of State in 2009, after consultations with the department’s legal advisor, and continued to raise it during the following three years. Cecilia Choi took the baton in 2012, working with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to try to come to a fair solution. In 2013, The Washington Post featured an article on the subject, “At the State Department, Diversity Can Count Against You,” highlighting the perspectives of several Foreign Service officers.”
In May 2017, AFSA issued guidance on new provisions governing assignment limitations as negotiated with the State Department; these were reportedly implemented on October 21, 2017 and can be found in 12 FAM 233.5.  The latest update were done on June  24, 2020:

Per FAM, assignment restrictions are conditions placed on a security clearance.  They are used to prevent potential targeting and harassment by foreign intelligence services as well as to lessen foreign influence and/or foreign preference security concerns; for example, if an employee and/or his or her close family members maintain citizenship or dual citizenship with that country or have substantial financial interests or foreign contacts there.  Foreign influence and preference are two of the U.S. Government’s Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.

Assignment restrictions may be determined when the initial clearance determination is made, during periodic reinvestigation, or when an individual’s personal situation changes; i.e., marriage, cohabitation, etc. (see 12 FAM 270).  An individual may be restricted from permanent assignment to a particular country or countries, or in some cases, a desk and/or program where that country or countries are the primary focus.  Desks or other positions may present vulnerabilities for targeting when there is frequent official contact with foreign individuals.  Individuals with an assignment restriction to a country may not serve temporary duty (TDY) in that country for more than a total of 60 days during any 365 day period.

The 2020 FAM update allows for a review within 30 days of receiving the assignment restrictions at an employee’s request, on exceptional circumstances the employee/applicant may also request an additional 15 days review, and there us a review on the assignment restrictions by DS/SI/PSS each time an individual’s continued eligibility for access to classified information is re-adjudicated, typically every five years.
The thing that’s clear in the regs is that the initial assignment restriction is conducted by Diplomatic Security. The  reviewer is also Diplomatic Security. After that review, the decision by DS/DSS becomes final. There is no appeal authority above Diplomatic Security. The State Department’s personnel chief, yes, the DGHR said in a congressional hearing that she “does not know enough about the process to answer the question” (see video below).
The updated regs also do not indicate who tracks, and keep the data about these assignment restrictions. The report on Politico points out that the State Department is required by law to provide to Congress “the number and nature of assignment restrictions and preclusions for the previous three years”. This was part of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 dated December 16, 2016 (see 22 USC 2734c: Employee assignment restrictions).  Which means Tillerson in 2017 or Pompeo in 2018 would have been required to submit preclusion data to Congress dating back at least three years.  And yet, the Politico report said that a State Department spokesperson was unable to say how many diplomats across the department are currently subject to restrictions.
Well, now.  So either the State Department ignored a congressional reporting requirement or the information is available but in a lock box?  Who wants to share?
Congressional representatives like Andy Kim of NJ who previously worked for the State Department has publicly voiced a demand that “we fix this problem.”

Below is the top official in charged of personnel including assignments at the State Department told by the congressman from California to “Maybe you might want to find more about this process since you’re Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Global Talent and this is affecting your State Department employees … “

 


 

 

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.

AFSA Issues Guidance on the Use of Diplomatic Passports

 

Via afsa.org:

AFSA has seen an increasing number of Foreign Service employees under investigation for possible misuse of their Diplomatic Passports (DPs). To ensure that our members understand the relevant rules for DPs, AFSA issues the following guidance.

General Guidance:

DPs carry the same message from the Secretary of State as do any other passports, i.e. that their bearers be permitted “to pass without delay or hindrance” and be given “all lawful aid and protection.”  However, they also announce that their bearers are abroad on diplomatic assignment with the U.S. government. While traveling abroad with such passports, DP holders not only have a special obligation to respect the laws of the country in which they are present, but they must abide by U.S. government and agency-specific standards of conduct.

In addition to reviewing the guidance below, we suggest all DP holders review the following material:

  • 8 FAM 503.2, Travel with Special Issuance Passports (updated 6/27/2018)
  • 18 STATE 6032, Proper Use of Special Issuance Passports (1/19/2018)
  • 12 STATE 12866, Official and Diplomatic Passports – Notice to Bearers (2/11/2012)

DP Terms of Use:

  • DPs may only be used while their holders are in positions which require such documents, i.e. during official business travel.
  • A DP attests that the bearer is traveling on diplomatic/official business for the U.S. government or is an accompanying family member of such a person.
  • DPs are authorized for any travel on government orders. For example, DPs may be used for R&R or medevac travel.
  • TDY travel should be conducted with DPs and any required visas. DP holders are advised to check with the post in question regarding requirements for entry.
  • DP holders should practice carrying both regular and diplomatic passports while on travel.
  • DPs must be used when entering and exiting the holder’s country of assignment abroad and returning to the U.S. from the country of assignment. Regular (tourist) passports must be used for all personal travel.
  • For all travel, we strongly advise carrying both diplomatic and regular passports and complying with instructions of local immigration authorities, even if those instructions are not necessarily in compliance with this guidance. If this or any other unusual situation occurs involving the use of diplomatic passports, please document the event for your records.

Examples:

  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A is taking a personal trip (tourist trip) with his/her family to Country B. The U.S. diplomat, and accompanying family members, must use the DPs for entering/exiting Country A. However, they must use their personal passports (“blue book”) for entering/exiting Country B. Whichever type of passport is used to enter a country must be used to exit that country.
  • U.S. diplomat has completed his/her tour in Country A and is returning to the U.S. with his/her family. The U.S. diplomat and accompanying family members will use their DPs for leaving Country A and entering the U.S.
  • U.S. diplomat assigned to Country A has an official meeting in Country B and then will travel to Country C for tourism. The U.S. diplomat must use the DP to exit Country A and enter and exit Country B. However, the diplomat must use his/her personal passport to enter and exit Country C. The DP will be used to re-enter Country A.

DPs Do Not:

  • Confer diplomatic immunity.
  • Exempt the bearer from foreign laws.
  • Allow the bearer to carry classified or sensitive material across borders.
  • Allow the bearer to avoid questions from foreign immigration or bypass security.
  • Protect their holders from arrest, hazards of war, criminal violence, or terrorism.

To Note:

  • DPs may subject their bearers to increased scrutiny by foreign governments and other entities.
  • Misuse of DPs may be investigated and prosecuted as a violation per 18 U.S.C. 1544.
  • Employees who are found to have misused DPs may also be subject to disciplinary action.
  • Many countries have visa requirements for DPs which exceed those for regular passports.  Guidance can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/special-issuance-agency-home/en/spec-issuance-agency.html
  • Taiwan: All travel to Taiwan by executive branch personnel must be with a regular passport.  In addition, executive branch personnel who plan to travel to Taiwan for official purposes must have prior concurrence from the Office of Taiwan Coordination: (202) 647-7711.

More information can be found at the Special Issuance Agency page here.

We understand that the Department of State will issue its own guidance on this topic shortly.

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Hatch Act With AFSA, December 3, 2019

 

Via afsa.org:

We are now one year away from the 2020 Presidential election – the perfect time to review the provisions of the Hatch Act. If you are uncertain about how the Hatch Act applies to Foreign Service members in Washington and overseas you are probably not alone.

On December 3, come to AFSA headquarters (across Virginia Avenue from the 21st Street entrance to the State Department) to have pizza and drinks and a frank discussion on the Hatch Act. Our presenters will be Ana Galindo-Marrone from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Kathleen Murphy from State’s Legal Advisor, and Deputy General Counsel Raeka Safai from AFSA’s Labor Management office. All AFSA members from all Foreign Service agencies are welcome.

For this event to be as useful as possible to our members, we are inviting questions in advance so the speakers can address them in their presentations. There will also be a live question and answer session after the presentations. The presentation will cover traditional area of political activity covered by the Hatch Act and will focus on the Hatch Act and social media as well.

Click here to register for the event. To send in a question you would like addressed in the presentations, please send the question to Sam Miglani at afsaintern@afsa.org with the email title “Hatch Act Topic.” We will try to incorporate as many of your questions into the presentation material as we can.

This event will be recorded and made available for online viewing at www.afsa.org/video. For those who prefer gluten-free refreshments, we will have gluten-free pizza available. See you there!

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AFSA Seeks Donation For Legal Defense Fund For Employees Snared in #ImpeachmentInquiry

Posted: November 4, 2019
Updated: November 11, 2019

Via AFSA:

AFSA’s Legal Defense Fund was created in 2007 to provide financial assistance to members in cases involving issues of significant institutional importance to the Foreign Service. It was named after the late Richard Scissors, a longtime AFSA staff member whose expertise in labor-management issues was crucial to many an AFSA member during his tenure. Sometimes cases come along where AFSA is unable to provide the time or legal expertise that is required. It is in such instances that the LDF can provide financial support which assists the member in retaining an outside attorney with expertise in a particular area of law. Unfortunately, this is one of those times. We have members in need as a result of the ongoing Congressional impeachment investigation. Your contribution can help. Donations to the LDF are not tax deductible.

If you are not a member of AFSA and do not wish to register on the AFSA website to make a donation, we welcome a donation by check made out to “AFSA Legal Defense Fund.” Please send that check to AFSA, c/o LDF, 2101 E Street NW, Washington DC 20037. Please include a certification that you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and the name of your current employer.

Congressional appearances reportedly lasted between three hours to 10 hours durations. This could easily cost career employees thousands of dollars in legal fees; and that’s just for a single appearance.
The fees matrix created by the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (USAO) for  2015-2020 notes that attorney’s fees can range from $319/hour for those with less than 2 years experience to $637/hour for lawyers with over 31 years of experience. Attorneys with 11-15 years experience have an hourly rate of $510/hour. We’ve also seen higher estimates than this for legal fees in WashDC, of course.
Ambassador Eric Rubin, the president of the American Foreign Service Association told us that “AFSA is optimistic that it will be able to cover legal fees of our members that are not covered by the U.S. Government. We continue to reach out to members and the public to ask for more support so we can build a Legal Defense Fund that can meet all known needs of our members.”
If you are able, please consider donating to AFSA’s Legal Defense Fund to help Foreign Service employees who are doing their duty in cooperating with the ongoing Congressional investigations. Thank you!

 

Statements of Support For Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

 

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was previously scheduled to appear for a deposition in Congress on Wednesday, October 2. Reports indicate that she is now scheduled to appear before the oversight body on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019.
In the meantime, the American Academy of Diplomacy has issued a joint statement signed by AAD Chairman Thomas R. Pickering  and AAD President Ronald E. Neumann supporting Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Must Be Supported

Washington, D.C. – The American Academy of Diplomacy calls on the Administration to make clear that it will not act against career diplomat Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch for doing her duty and working to support long established US policies and values. The Administration removed Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine prematurely. Now, we note with great concern the statement by President Donald Trump in the recently released memorandum of conversation with Ukraine’s president, in which the President said of Ambassador Yovanovitch, “Well, she’s going to go through some things.” The threatening tone of this statement is deeply troubling. It suggests actions outside of and contrary to the procedures and standards of a professional service whose officers, like their military counterparts, take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Whatever views the Administration has of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s performance, we call on the Administration to make clear that retaliation for political reasons will not be tolerated.

The Academy is a non-partisan organization of former senior U.S. diplomats, career and political appointees, who have served over decades. Our mission is strengthening American diplomacy. In our careers, we have worked around the world and under Republican and Democratic administrations alike and frequently acted publicly and privately against foreign corruption. Speaking out against foreign corruption is consistent also with the Foreign Anti-Corruption Act that binds U.S. business.

The American Foreign Service Association, the “voice of the Foreign Service” has also issued a statement on The Importance of a Non-Partisan Career Foreign Service but made no specific mention of Ambassador Yovanovitch’s case.
On October 1, NBC News reports that more than 50 former female U.S. ambassadors are calling on President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a letter to protect foreign service officers from political retaliation in the wake of the ousting of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  The signatories of the letter are members of an organization of current and former ambassadors, Women Ambassadors Serving America.
The report notes that “Only one current U.S. ambassador signed the letter: Catherine Ebert-Gray, a career foreign service officers who serves as the U.S. envoy to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Her signature comes with a notable caveat; She adds that “The views expressed are my own and not necessarily those of the U.S. government. Signing a public letter critical of the Trump administration could put current ambassadors at professional risk, which likely explains why Ebert-Gray is the only one to sign the letter.”

 

 

U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Postal Union Will Interrupt/Eliminate U.S. Diplomatic Post Office Deliveries

 

Via afsa.org:
On October 17, 2018, the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. was starting the one-year withdrawal process from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a 145-year-old United Nations organization that regulates global mail delivery. The UPU will meet in late September to consider changes to the organization’s rules and rate structures. The Administration has said that it will remain in the organization if certain changes are adopted. Because the U.S. is required to give one year’s notice before withdrawal, the U.S. could depart as early as mid-October if it decides to do so. 
Should the U.S go through with the withdrawal, the Diplomatic Post Office (DPO) will experience—at best—significant interruption, if not outright elimination while the U.S. would have to negotiate new bilateral postal service agreements with other countries. While pouch deliveries will not be affected, DPO deliveries for any Foreign Service personnel at post will likely be impacted. The potential ramifications are obvious to all members of the Foreign Service, particularly when it comes to delivery of medical supplies and medications.
AFSA has raised the possible negative effects of withdrawal on Foreign Service families with senior officials in HR and has been working with the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), which is the military equivalent of AFSA, as APO services may be affected as well. While the legal authority to withdraw from the UPU lies with the executive branch, AFSA is also warning Congress of the negative implications DPO interruption or elimination would bring our diplomats.
The A Bureau is well aware of this problem and has been working to mitigate possible challenges and seek alternative solutions. AFSA advises all members to read the recent ALDAC on this issue (19 STATE 76584), as well as any embassy-issued management notices.
AFSA will keep following this and will update members if and when needed. In the meantime, please heed the guidance from the Department of State: Plan to make bulk purchases or crucial supplies early so that your deliveries will reach you before mid-October.  

 

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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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New AFSA Governing Board (2019-2021 )Takes Office

 

New AFSA Governing Board (2019-2021). Photo by AFSA/Twitter

The 2019-2021 American Foreign Service Association Governing Board took office on July 15. It will serve a two-year term (Also see 2019-2021 AFSA Governing Board Election Results). Below via AFSA:

Incoming President Ambassador Eric Rubin comes to AFSA from his posting as Ambassador to Bulgaria, where he served from three years. He was previously deputy chief of mission in Moscow, deputy assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs, consul general in Chiang Mai, executive assistant to the under secretary of State for political affairs and Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Foreign Service Officer Thomas Yazdgerdi, AFSA’s new Vice President of the Department of State constituency, is a 28-year veteran of the State Department. Yazdgerdi is finishing his tenure as Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, but has also served in Kabul, Kirkuk, Baghdad, Pristina, Panama, Bratislava, Tirana and Athens, as well as Director of the Office of South Central European Affairs.

John K. Naland returns as Vice President for the retiree constituency. He has held numerous positions on AFSA’s board, including State Vice President and AFSA President.

Foreign Service Officers Jason SingerJay Carreiro and Michael Riedel will serve as Vice Presidents of the USAID, Foreign Commercial Service and Foreign Agricultural Service constituencies, respectively.

Completing AFSA’s leadership team, retired senior FSO Virginia L. Bennett will serve as Treasurer and Kenneth Kero-Mentz will serve as the organization’s Secretary.

Complete bios for AFSA’s elected leadership, including all officers and constituency representatives, can be found on the AFSA website.

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