Programs, Events and Updates

September-October 2019

  1. Mark Your Calendars!
  2. Open Season is Coming
  3. AFSA Launches Essay Contest’s 22nd Year
  4. New Resource from AFSA
  5. Transfer Season is Finally Over
  6. Foreign Service Commemorative Coin and Medallion
  7. Have You Missed an AFSA Event?
  8. Give the Gift of Understanding: an FSJ Centennial Subscription
  9. Write for the FSJ
  10. Is Retirement on the Horizon?
  11. Join the FSJ Centennial Celebration
  12. Art & Bookfair is Almost Here


We are busy this fall with all kinds of events for our members. Please join us for one or more of the following programs:

  • On September 25 at noon, we offer a panel discussion geared toward State Dept hiring managers, focused on how to hire the right people for the right job. Click here to register.
  • The following day, September 26, our fall happy hour begins at 4:30. These are always a great opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie of your FS friends and colleagues and relax after a day at work. Click here to register.
  • On October 16, we have the great honor of recognizing our best during the annual AFSA awards ceremony. We will give out awards for constructive dissent and exemplary performance and bestow our Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy award on Ambassador (ret.) Herman ‘Hank’ Cohen. The ceremony takes place from 4-6 p.m. at the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room at the Department of State.
  • On October 18, our fourth ‘Next Stage’ program will focus on post-FS career opportunities for our Diplomatic Security colleagues. Stay tuned for additional information, including a full list of panelists.
  • Finally, AFSPA’s Paula Jakub comes back to AFSA on November 19 to look at federal benefits programs, including FEHB. An invitation to this event is forthcoming. (Note that AFSPA is not connected to AFSA.)


Open Season for federal health benefits begins on November 11, but it’s never too early to start thinking about your options. As always, AFSA will offer complimentary access to the Checkbook Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees for members; we will send out access instructions and other useful information in early November. This is just one of many benefits of AFSA membership, which also include The Foreign Service Journal, the daily media digest and access to useful programs and seminars on benefits and professional development. If you know someone who is for whatever reason not an AFSA member, please take the opportunity to let them know about everything they are missing!



The 22nd iteration of AFSA’s national high school essay contest was launched on September 17. This year, we are asking students to submit an essay identifying how members of the Foreign Service work with other civilian parts of the U.S. Government to promote peace, national security and economic prosperity.

Yet again, AFSA has partnered with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Semester at Sea (SAS) and the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) to make this contest a rewarding and educational experience for thousands of students. Teachers across the country have integrated the contest into their classroom curriculum. The contest has challenged high school students from around the nation to explore and research difficult issues related to American diplomacy and the Foreign Service.

In 2019, AFSA received nearly 700 submissions from 46 states. This year’s winner, Wilson King, from Washington, Conn., visited Washington, D.C. with his family to be honored at a reception at USIP and then went over to the Department of State to meet with Deputy Secretary John Sullivan. The contest offers a first prize of $2,500, a trip to Washington, D.C. to meet a member of the State Department’s leadership, and full tuition for a Semester at Sea educational voyage. Each year, a runner-up also receives $1,250 and full tuition for the NSLC's International Diplomacy summer program.

Please spread the word about this great opportunity for our nation’s high school students. Learn more at



AFSA has for a long time tracked the appointments of Ambassadors and senior officials. We are happy to announce that we have instituted a similar tracking system for Deputy Chiefs of Mission on our website. While this resource will be less interesting to media and those outside the Foreign Service, we at AFSA thought it important to spotlight the success of career members of the Foreign Service and let old friends and colleagues know about these achievements. Please click here to read the list and always let us know if you know of any needed changes or updates.



The Foreign Service in constantly on the move, and never more so than during summer transfer season. Now that you are (hopefully) settled into your new surroundings, please let AFSA know that you have moved. Your home agency does not let us know when you leave post, which means that your beleaguered mail room colleagues are inundated with copies of The Foreign Service Journal for folks who have moved on. So we kindly ask: Please let us know when you move. All it takes is a very quick email to If you are at post, we much prefer the pouch address as it keeps our costs down.

Transfer season also means that a lot of AFSA post representatives pack up for a new assignment. Posts without an AFSA Post Rep should hold elections if possible. Click here to determine if there is a vacancy at your post. Areas of responsibility include:

  • Representing collective and individual interests of Foreign Service Personnel at post;
  • Forwarding to AFSA any proposals or concerns originating with the AFSA members at post.
  • Expanding AFSA's membership and encouraging others at post to seek the AFSA Post Rep position when you move on.

The only employees excluded from serving as official AFSA Reps are management officials and/or confidential employees including chiefs of mission, deputy chiefs of mission, management officers, human resources officers, regional security officers, and office management specialists for COM/DCM. Posts preparing to hold elections may visit the AFSA website to review the guidelines for holding elections. Be sure to advise AFSA when a Post Rep is elected so that they can be properly certified. For further information contact the Member Services Department at



AFSA members will enjoy sharing AFSA’s distinctive coin with their foreign affairs contacts. The AFSA U.S. Foreign Service commemorative coin can be given to others in recognition of service to the Foreign Service or proudly displayed on your own desk. The unique, silver-finish, 1.75-inch diameter coin has the Great Seal on one side and the AFSA logo and slogan on the other. The coins may be purchased with a display case for $22 or without the case for $17. Click here to purchase online via credit card. AFSA also offers the Foreign Service Medallion, which celebrates and commemorates the service of Foreign Service personnel and their spouses or partners. These bronze medallions are available for $149; click here to learn more and make a purchase.



Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. We record all AFSA events so that our members around the world can enjoy them as well. Our September program on the TSP and new tax laws; our summer even with Amb. Bill Burns in discussion about his new book, The Back Channel; and our ‘Next Stage’ program on teaching international affairs and diplomacy – you can find them all on our website, (Unfortunately, the recording of our June ‘Next Stage’ program on transitioning to the private sector is not available due to a technical glitch.)



We all need to be able to explain what the Foreign Service does and why diplomacy matters. One great resource for this is The Foreign Service Journal. Please think about who in your life you’d like to understand more about what it is you do and how diplomacy works—and consider signing them up for a Foreign Service Journal gift subscription. To sign up, please go to the AFSA website’s subscription page. For more information, email or call us at (202) 338-4045, ext. 709.



The Foreign Service Journal welcomes your submissions on any topic of interest to members of the FS community. We are especially seeking Speaking Out submissions (1,500-1,800 words), features on topics of current concern (1,800-2,000 words) and letters to the editor (up to 500 words) responding to Journal content. Please share your reactions to the articles in the September focus on preventive diplomacy. And look for the October focus on books by Foreign Service authors. Also, take a look at our editorial calendar, and consider writing for one of the upcoming focus sections, keeping in mind that lead time is generally 12 weeks. Please send all submissions to The FSJ Editorial Board meets monthly to review and vote on which submissions to publish. Find guidance on how and what to submit on our Author Guidelines page.



AFSA has a large collection of online resources to help members prepare and settle into retirement. The Retirement Services section of our website ( is designed to be a one-stop shop offering videos, articles, Department of State ALDACs and even checklists to answer questions and identify issues to consider as you get ready for retirement. If you have questions, our retirement benefits counselor Dolores Brown is reachable via email at

When you retire, we hope you’ll stay with AFSA by signing up as a retiree member. Although your membership does not automatically carry over into retirement, you can easily re-join by visiting and filling out the required forms. AFSA provides a key link in retirement to the Foreign Service by offering tailored information and resources through The Foreign Service Journal, the bimonthly retiree newsletter, regular updates on AFSA’s outreach and advocacy efforts and our Daily Media Digest. AFSA also offers programs uniquely designed for retired members of the Foreign Service which are provided both in-person and through webinars and videos.

We are pleased to say that AFSA’s retiree membership numbers are growing as more of our colleagues recognize how important it is to continue to support AFSA’s mission as the voice of the Foreign Service.



Please join The Foreign Service Journal Centennial Celebration by snapping a photo of yourself (or a friend or family member) reading the Journal wherever you are—the more distant from D.C., the better! Photos should be 1 MB or larger if possible; this is possible using almost every cell phone. Send submissions to, and please include details about yourself and the photo location and date.



The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) will yet again offer their long-running Art & BookFair at the Department of State from October 11-21. We encourage you to attend this wonderful event, which has become a staple of the Foreign Service community. In the process, you will support AAFSW. Whether you want an antiquarian book or some very cool stamps, this is the event for you!