The Foreign Service Journal - March 2014 - page 9

MARCH 2014
A Rich Legacy
Steve Honley fully deserves
all the praise he has received
for the 12½ years he
dedicated to refining and
enriching the content of
Foreign Service Journa
longer than any previous
editor-in-chief except
Shirley Newhall three
decades earlier.
During my 10 years
as an FSJ Editorial Board
member, six of them as
chairman, I became a great admirer of
Steve—not only for his editorial skills, but
for his patience and adaptability in deal-
ing with the often-competing demands of
readers, the Editorial Board (some mem-
bers of which were fond of proposing
arcane topics, then leaving it to Steve and
Senior Editor Susan Maitra to find con-
tributors) and the AFSA Governing Board.
Today’s magazine has been trans-
formed from what it was at the beginning
of Steve’s tenure, due in large part to his
attention to ambitious focus sections
addressing specific themes, and chal-
lenging Speaking Out columns offering
the opinions and insights of outliers.
Steve was also an innovator, establish-
ing the Talking Points (formerly Cyber-
notes) department, featuring wide-rang-
ing reporting on items of interest to the
Foreign Service community, as well as
periodic FS Heritage and FS Know-How
columns. He also conducted 15 exclusive
interviews with the winners of AFSA’s
annual Lifetime Contributions to Ameri-
can Diplomacy Award, and regularly
previewed projected content to stimulate
contributions from AFSA members.
In addition, Steve presided over the
magazine’s recent redesign, which by
all accounts has been a great success;
its ongoing efforts to adapt to the digital
age; and a more
subtle, but still
important, change
in character from a
relatively autono-
mous publication
(though obviously
closely affiliated
with AFSA) through
which Foreign Ser-
vice personnel can
express themselves
in print, into a policy
instrument with
closer supervision by,
and increasingly spe-
cific guidelines from,
the AFSA Governing
Taking over from Steve will be a big
challenge for Associate Editor Shawn
Dorman, but her own proven track
record with the
and FS Books,
and the “dream team” she has inherited
from Steve, are good omens for success.
Ted Wilkinson III
FSO, retired
Washington, D.C.
Happy Trails!
I was pleased to learn in the recent
of Editor Steve Honley’s departure. I
say that only because he is moving on to
other pastures.
Steve and his colleagues have done
an excellent job in bringing a new and
active, exciting feel to the
. There
is not only more content to read, but
more of interest. And the balance is good.
So thank you, Steve, for the many
years you have given the
AFSA. I wish you good fortune in your
new adventures.
Douglas Watson
FSO, retired
Arlington, Va
So Much for Merit
I was one of the naive souls mentioned
by George B. Lambrakis in his Decem-
to manage one’s career in a way that
maximizes the chances of rapid promo-
tion, and simply trusting the system on
its own to reward one’s performance, can
now lead to premature retirement.”
Failure to cross the Senior Foreign
Service threshold led to my own prema-
ture and involuntary early retirement in
1993 at the age of 51, a personnel deci-
sion that was profoundly wasteful for the
Service and the country.
The case achieved some notoriety
at the time; I publicized it widely. In
brief, as an FS-1 political cone officer, I
followed my career counselor’s advice to
accept an assignment in the Bureau of
Oceans and International Environmental
and Scientific Affairs to achieve eligibil-
ity to compete for promotion to Officer-
Counselor rank in the multifunctional
However, before the 1992 promo-
tion panels met, the State Department
arbitrarily changed its multifunctional
criteria in abstruse ways and denied
me eligibility to compete in that cone.
Thereby disadvantaged, and despite
superb efficiency ratings, I was not
promoted in the political cone and was
involuntarily retired for time-in-class.
To be sure, at the time there were
other budgetary and legal pressures
on the department bearing on total
promotion numbers and, within those
numbers, opportunities for women and
minorities. A sizable cohort of colleagues
was caught up in this situation.
I grieved the decision, but the Foreign
Service Grievance Board (Case No.
93-23, State), eschewing consideration
October 2012.
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