The Foreign Service Journal - April 2014 - page 45

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
APRIL 2014
45
AFSA NEWS
THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION
AFSA Releases Guidelines for Successful Performance as a
Chief of Mission
mid-2013, its members set
out numerous goals that they
wanted to achieve during
their two-year term of office
on behalf of AFSA’s member-
ship. These goals were laid
out as part of AFSA’s strate-
gic plan which was adopted
by the Board in the fall of last
year.
One key issue—and one of
those stated goals—is ensur-
ing that chief of mission
nominees have the qualities,
experience and characteris-
tics that will enable them to
succeed. We believe that it
is crucial for the success of
U.S. foreign policy and our
standing in the world that
they succeed; and it is of
overriding importance to our
members who serve in mis-
sions abroad that they have
strong, qualified leaders.
One way to do that, AFSA
concluded, would be to
produce a set of standard
guidelines, based on the
experience of retired chiefs
of mission. On Feb. 25, the
association released “Guide-
lines for Successful Perfor-
mance as a Chief of Mission,”
a set of criteria that are
politically neutral and can be
applied to all nominees, both
career and non-career (see p.
49 for the full text).
AFSA’s intent was to add a
thoughtful, useful reference
document to the process,
stake out the high ground
and produce guidelines
that those managing the
nomination and confirmation
process can—and we hope
will—use to take the measure
of potential nominees and
determine whether they have
what it takes to be a suc-
cessful chief of mission, if
nominated by the president
and confirmed by the Senate.
THE PROCESS
AFSA convened a work-
ing group of 10 former chiefs
of mission, including career
and non-career ambassadors
who served with distinc-
tion through the last eight
presidential administrations,
with the intention of identify-
ing the characteristics of a
strong ambassador.
The group, led by long-
broad view, looking at avail-
able guidance on the subject
including legislation and how
other associations determine
qualifications for their posi-
tions.
BY KRISTEN FERNEKES, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
Continued on page 48
AFSA’s message is
that the American
people and the
president deserve
the most qualified
women and men
to serve as U.S.
ambassadors.
They reviewed the Ameri-
can Bar Association’s vetting
procedures for potential
federal bench candidates;
reports from the Office of the
Inspector General cover-
ing chief of mission issues;
perused cases presented to
AFSA’s legal team; and stud-
ied other relevant documen-
tation.
The process was not
without controversy. Working
group members had their
own points of view. However,
given the importance of the
task and the collegial nature
of the group, they achieved
consensus and approved the
final draft document unani-
mously.
The document was
shared with the AFSA
Governing Board at their
December meeting. After
comments and questions
were addressed, the Board
approved the guidelines by a
substantial majority during
their January meeting.
Following passage of the
guidelines, AFSA leadership,
staff and working group
members moved deliberately
through a series of briefings
to key stakeholders in the
chief-of-mission selection,
nomination and confirma-
tion process including State
Department leadership,
the Office of White House
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