Page 43 - Foreign Service Journal - March 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MARCH 2013
43
AFSA NEWS
Raising the Profle of AFSA and the
Foreign Service
THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION
Dear AFSA members,
During 2012, AFSA
addressed broad concerns
and conducted wide-ranging
activities to raise the profle
of diplomacy, the Foreign
Service and AFSA itself.
Key Priorities and
Concerns
The transition from Secre-
tary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton to Secretary of
State John Kerry provided
an opportunity to share our
key priorities and areas of
concerns: security/diplo-
macy and efective risk
management that does not
overly constrain the ability to
engage in the feld; strength-
ening Foreign Service capac-
ity through an increase in
substantial education and
training opportunities for
the profession of diplomacy;
tangible recognition and fair
compensation for diplomats;
and institutional reform and
restructuring to strengthen
the Foreign Service, the
Department of State and
USAID.
The issues relevant to
risks and dangers inherent
in the conduct of diplomacy
were brought under sharper
focus by the tragic events of
Sept. 11 in Benghazi. Other
themes summarized in the
AFSA letter to Secretary-Des-
ignate Kerry were prompted
by the growing realization of
the need to strengthen the
Foreign Service and the State
Department as professional
institutions. The global envi-
ronment and its challenges
have increased professional
demands on the Foreign Ser-
vice—as well as on diplomacy
and development—to make
the right choices on goals,
priorities and strategies.
Professionalism in
Decline
At the same time, there is evi-
dence that meritocracy and
professionalism as concepts
governing our diplomatic
and development institu-
tions are in decline. Political
patronage and partisanship
have grown steadily in the
last four decades. Nowhere is
this more obvious than in the
senior leadership and man-
agement ranks of our agen-
cies, where, despite steady
expansion, the role of the
career Foreign Service has
diminished and questions
are raised about its capacity
to grow the senior leader-
ship bench that is needed to
craft and implement efective
American diplomacy—politi-
cal, commercial, develop-
mental and humanitarian.
Strengthening and
Modernizing AFSA
Against this backdrop, our
2012 Annual Report refects
AFSA’s continuing focus
on: (1) building capacity for
more efective advocacy with
management and Congress
by getting the right staf in
place, the data we need for
serious and credible analysis,
and broader and deeper rela-
tionships with key decision-
makers; (2) renewing our
commitment to professional
excellence and advocating
for a rethink of requirements
for today’s diplomats and
what professional education
and training is needed, when
and how and from whom; (3)
improving communications
with members and develop-
ing more substantial and
sustained dialogue between
AFSA leadership and our
members in the feld; (4)
reaching out to policymakers
and the media for improved
and efective advocacy; and
(5) clarifying governance
and professionalizing and
streamlining internal AFSA
operations to better defne
the role and responsibil-
ity of the Governing Board
AFSA President Susan R. Johnson.
BY AFSA PRES IDENT SUSAN R . JOHNSON