Page 25 - Foreign Service Journal - May 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
MAY 2013
25
Five years after its founding, Executive Women at State
has become a strong advocate of gender parity and diversity,
within both the Foreign Service and Civil Service.
BY CYNTH I A SABOE
FOCUS
DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE
EW@S:
SUPPORTING AND
MENTORING
FEMALE LEADERS
W
ith nearly 1,500 members, Executive
Women at State is now the largest afn-
ity group in the department. A sister
group modeled on EW@S, Women @
AID, was established at the U.S. Agency
for International Development last year,
and has already grown to more than 400 members.
Te mission of both groups is to advocate for achieving
gender parity for senior career women. Toward that end,
EW@S places great emphasis on mentoring the next genera-
tion of female leaders, within both the Foreign Service and
Civil Service.
Our roots go back to the early 1990s, when a group of
United States Information Agency employees was active in
the Women’s Action Organization. Years later, in the autumn
of 2007, a foursome of WAO alumnae found themselves back
together in Washington, all working at the State Department.
Te four—Julie Gianelloni Connor, Elizabeth Corwin, Georgia
Hubert and Monica O’Keefe—began meeting over lunch to
discuss how to reactivate a group focused on women’s issues.
Teir eforts led to the formal establishment of EW@S the
following year. Te organization held its inaugural event on
Feb. 25, 2008, featuring Ambassador Robin Raphel. Other
Cynthia Saboe, a State Department Civil Service employee since 1981,
is president of Executive Women at State. She is currently the acting
executive director in the Ofce of the Inspector General.
speakers that frst year included Under Secretary for Management Pat
Kennedy, Ofce of Civil Rights Director John Robinson and Under
Secretary for Global Afairs Paula Dobrianski.
Inspiring Role Models
Over the past fve years, EW@S has held more than 50 depart-
mentwide programs, including co-sponsorship of the department’s
Women’s History Month and Women’s Equality Day observances. We
were honored that former Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClin-
ton accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker for Women’s
History Month in March 2009, one of her frst presentations to the
department.
Some of our speakers have had a diplomatic connection. Jour-
nalist Gwen Ifll, whose sister is a retired Foreign Service ofcer,
recounted the challenges she faced as a young black journalist. When
an anonymous colleague in one newsroom left a hostile note on her
desk, for instance, she refused to let it get to her. Instead, she realized
that “Tis clearly isn’t about me!”
Cokie Roberts, whose mother, Lindy Boggs, served as U.S. ambas-