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AFSAMembers Named Sammie Finalists

AFSA congratulates mem-

bers Edward J. Ramotowski

and Natasha M. de Marcken

on being named among the

finalists for a “Sammie,” the

Samuel J. Heyman Service to

America Medal.

The Sammies recognize

the significant accomplish-

ments of federal employ-

ees, who, in the words of

the award itself, “make our

country better, healthier and

stronger.” In both cases, the

contributions have benefited

not just Americans, but many

people beyond our borders.

As deputy assistant

secretary for visa services,

Mr. Ramotowski and his

consular affairs team have

significantly streamlined

the application process,

increasing the issuance of

tourist and student travel

visas by more than 50

percent between 2010 and


He and his team reduced

the average wait time for

in-person interviews with

consular officers from 15

days to six. Their work has

contributed substantially

to increased tourism and

the expansion of American

educational services,

boosting U.S. economic

activity and creating jobs.

As director of the Office of

Education for the U.S. Agency

for International Develop-

ment, Ms. de Marcken was

painfully aware that while

many more children are

entering primary schools in

developing countries, too

many of them are still unable

to read even after four years

of schooling.

Ms. de Marcken

pinpointed early learning

as the most critical, and

reshaped the strategy to

prioritize foundational

reading skills for the roughly

30 million students served

through USAID’s educational

programs. She has led

the way in guiding donors

and countries to have a

measurable effect on student


As the voice of the

Foreign Service, AFSA

takes great pride when its

members are recognized

for the significance of

their accomplishments

in advancing important

national priorities. Please

join us in congratulating

Mr. Ramotowski and Ms. de



—Todd Thurwachter,

Retiree Counselor

On June 4, the American For-

eign Service Association was

pleased to unveil its newly

redesigned website at www. The new site has

been completely revamped

to offer users enhanced

organization, more intuitive

browsing and a streamlined


Here are three things

you’ll love about our new site:

1. Faster loading times and

responsive design (i.e., it is

accessible and easy to view

on all platforms ranging from

desktops to mobile phones).

2. Seamless integration

with AFSA’s e-commerce

platform and secure online

transactions for anything

from starting or renewing a

membership to making pur-

chases and donations.

3. More social sharing

features, including one-click

sharing from any of our

webpages. Simply click on

the icons that hover on the

right side of the screen to

send that page to your social

media channel of choice or

email it to a friend or col-


And don’t worry, all the

content you are accustomed


The Foreign Service Jour-


, scholarships informa-

tion, our blogs list, etc.—is

still there, just with a fresh

new look that is more user-

friendly than ever.

With more than a million

views each year, the website

represents one of AFSA’s

main outreach tools. Our

goal is to provide users with

a quality online experience

each time they visit our site.

We hope you enjoy the new

design, and invite your com-

ments and feedback.


—Ásgeir Sigfússon,

Director of New Media

AFSAWebsite Gets a Facelift