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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

JANUARY FEBRUARY 2015

51

AFSA NEWS

AFSAVisits State’s

Charleston Facilities

As part of AFSA’s

outreach to mem-

bers and agency

management alike,

State Vice President

Matthew Asada

and Labor Manage-

ment Senior Adviser

James Yorke visited

the State Depart-

ment’s Global Finan-

cial Services Center

in Charleston, South

Carolina, in Novem-

ber.

They met with

Acting Comptroller

General Chris Flaggs

and other senior

oŸcials in the OŸce

of the Comptroller

General of Finan-

cial Services, to discuss the

procedures for debt recovery,

emphasizing ways to ensure

more timely notification to

employees about overpay-

ments and to reduce the

current large number of

overpayments (see “AFSA Files Cohort Grievance on State OCP Adjustments” in the November 2014 FSJ for more details).

Yorke and Asada also

visited the Charleston Pass-

port Center, where they met

with Deputy Director Teyako

Gibbs-Woods and with Boyd

Hinton, the senior steward

at the National Federation of

Federal Employees, one of

AFSA’s sister unions.

Later, they visited the

OŸce of Human Resources

From left: AFSA Senior Labor Management

Adviser James Yorke, HR Shared Services

Director Tracey MahaŸey, and AFSA State Vice

President Matthew Asada.

On Oct. 2, AFSA welcomed

foreign a“airs interns to its

third Brown Bag Series event,

“Social Media and Diplo-

macy,” featuring FSO Vinay

Chawla, the State Depart-

ment’s director of digital

engagement in the Bureau of

Public A“airs.

Chawla spoke on the

power of social media as a

platform to inform the public,

specifically young adult audi-

ences. He discussed the nine

social networking tools the

State Department employs:

Facebook, Twitter, Flickr,

YouTube, Google+, Tumblr,

Instagram, the DipNote blog

and the long-form online

magazine,

Medium

.

“We really have oppor-

tunities to interact in new

formats,” Chawla said. “We’ve

been able to take on some

important topics,” he added,

demonstrating how social

media extends the State

Department’s reach. For

example, when Turkey

banned Twitter in March, the

State Department responded

by posting an article, “21st-

Century Book Burning,” on its

DipNote blog. The article was

widely circulated, appearing

on the front page of

three Turkish news-

papers.

Chawla noted

that John Kerry

became the first

Secretary of State

to hold a Google

Hangout, which

included an interac-

tive discussion on

the United States’

response to the use

of chemical weapons in Syria.

Chawla also described

how his team looks at data

to determine what content is

popular, what is being shared

and where traŸc is coming

from. This type of informa-

tion has the potential to help

the State Department build

relationships it might not

otherwise have established.

During a question-and-

answer session, Chawla

acknowledged that incor-

porating risky pictures and

videos has a positive e“ect

on circulation, but explained

that decisions on content

need to be based on how the

post will reflect on the State

Department.

The series will continue

in 2015. Interested students

and interns should check the

AFSA website for upcoming

events.

n

—Brittany DeLong,

Assistant Editor

FSO Explores Social Media

and Diplomacy

State’s Director of Digital Engagement Vinay

Chawla spoke on the power of social media at

an intern event.

AFSA/BRITTANYDELONG

Shared Services. There they

met with Director Tracey

Maha“ey and toured the

facility, learning how HRSS

interacts with oŸces and

employees throughout the

State Department.

Of particular interest were

the oŸces devoted to helping

retirees, annuitants and sur-

vivors navigate the complexi-

ties of the Foreign Service

retirement system.

They concluded the visit

with a roundtable discus-

sion with AFSA members in

Charleston.

n

—James Yorke, Senior

Labor Management Adviser

AFSA