Foreign Service Journal - June 2013 - page 52

JUNE 2013
On April 26, AFSA held an
educational event on Capitol
Hill for congressional staff,
fellows and interns. The ses-
sion, “Diplomacy in the 21st
Century: Life of Challenges
and Opportunities in the
Foreign Service,” gave more
than 30 attendees a unique
opportunity to get to know
Foreign Service representa-
tives on a personal level.
The event featured retired
Ambassador Charles Ray
as the keynote speaker, and
a panel comprised of AFSA
President Susan Johnson;
Ken Kero-Mentz, president of
Gays and Lesbians in Foreign
Affairs Agencies; Elise Mel-
linger, a Pearson Fellow and
State Department represen-
tative on the AFSA Governing
Board; Steve Morrison, a
Foreign Commercial Service
representative; and Jason
Singer, a U.S. Agency for
International Development
Panelists shared their
stories of living and working
overseas. Morrison described
how difficult it was to find
help for a son with learning
disabilities in a multilingual
school system, while Kero-
Mentz told attendees how
he met his partner while
working abroad. Johnson
and Singer described what it
was like for each of them to
grow up as a child of Foreign
Service parents, and how
those experiences shaped
their respective decisions to
AFSA Goes to Capitol Hill
become FSOs themselves.
Amazingly, some audi-
ence members seemed
shocked to hear about the
very real dangers and threats
the panelists had faced every
day while serving overseas.
For example, Kero-Mentz
was given a helmet and flak
jacket to wear while serving
in Baghdad. He also kept
a personal weapon on the
driver’s seat in case he was
The panelists’ anecdotes
and discussion prompted
insightful questions from
audience members, some of
whom expressed interest in
pursuing a career in the For-
eign Service. Others simply
came to learn more about the
different roles FS employees
This type of educational
event is a key component of
AFSA’s advocacy and con-
gressional outreach efforts.
It is instrumental in helping
members of Congress and
their staff better understand
the realities and challenges
that affect Foreign Service
members and their families.
The feedback from
attendees has spurred
AFSA’s advocacy department
on to plan a similar event
in September, in collabora-
tion with affinity groups in
Whether you are an
active-duty or retired mem-
ber of the Foreign Service,
we are looking for compelling
stories for our future event
and invite you to share yours.
can help.
(Left to Right) On April 26, AFSA President Susan R. Johnson, AFSA Governing Board State Representative Elise
Mellinger, Ambassador Charles Ray, GLIFAA President and AFSA Governing Board State Representative Ken Kero-
Mentz, AFSA Governing Board Foreign Commercial Service Representative Steve Morrison and AFSA Governing
Board USAID Representative Jason Singer participate in AFSA’s educational event on Capitol Hill.
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