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As my term of office draws to

a close, I have been thinking

about the colleagues who

took time out of their jobs to

help me better understand

various issues. The State

Department Vice President

negotiates on behalf of all

State Department Foreign

Service employees, regard-

less of whether they’re FSOs

or specialists, married or

single, parents or not, and

so on.

As a never-married non-

parent who is not a minor-

ity, I had to get up to speed

quickly on a wide variety

of issues and remember to

think through the possible

implications of each issue

for all our members, not just

a few subsets. In doing so,

I relied heavily on several

colleagues whom I’d like to

thank here.

First,

Anne Coleman-

Honn

of Balancing Act—

frankly, the group’s entire

leadership. Anne and her

colleagues consistently

did the heavy lifting for

me when it came to draft-

ing proposals to improve

conditions for new parents

without disadvantaging other

employees, and they repeat-

edly impressed me with how

quickly they came up with

articulate input when I asked

for their perspective.

I remain horrified and

embarrassed by how anti-

quated the department’s

policies are when it comes

to parental leave and related

benefits, but having col-

I Couldn’t Have Done It Without You

STATE VP VOICE

| BY ANGIE BRYAN AFSA NEWS

Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA State VP.

Contact:

BryanA@state.gov

| (202) 647-8160

leagues like the leaders of

Balancing Act gives me con-

fidence that the fight will not

end with my departure.

Along similar lines,

Mark

Evans

, head of the recently

formed employee organiza-

tion Foreign Service Families

With Disabilities Alliance.

Transferring from post to post

is challenging for any Foreign

Service family with children,

but exponentially more so

when one or more of those

children have special needs.

Mark founded an organi-

zation to unite employees

facing those challenges and

has served as an effective

advocate for their con-

cerns, educating me and

being a real partner when

brainstorming the best way

forward.

I’m also grateful to

Regina

Jun

and

Kerri Hannan

of

GLIFAA, who were invaluable

in helping me troubleshoot

on certain issues.

Mary Ellen

Tsekos-Velez

and

Charlotte

Nuanes

of the recently

formed employee organiza-

tion Working In Tandem did

the same when it came to

tandem issues.

Chris Le

of the Asian

American Foreign Affairs

Association was a close

partner in AFSA’s work on

assignment restrictions, as

well as our efforts to reduce

unconscious bias.

Speaking of unconscious

bias, I would be severely

remiss if I did not acknowl-

edge

Jennifer Harris Baxter

,

who not only helped open my

eyes to the issue, but who

then volunteered a significant

amount of her personal time

to drafting an in-depth paper

on the topic. As a result, hun-

dreds of colleagues around

the world began discussing

the issue and considering

possible implications for the

Foreign Service.

On the AFSA Governing

Board, retired colleagues

Bill Haugh

and

Dean Haas

both filled in for me when I

missed three months of work

after emergency open heart

surgery. They didn’t get paid

for doing so, but they treated

it like their own job.

Lawrence Casselle

walked me through several

issues involving the Bureau

of Diplomatic Security;

Susan Danewitz

displayed

extraordinary patience when

helping me understand

information resource man-

agement issues and

Tricia

Wingerter

did a phenomenal

job of representing office

management specialists’

interests and concerns.

Jason Donovan

was my

go-to person when it came

to achieving the right tone

in messages to the field, and

also stepped in for me on a

negotiation.

I cannot end this message

without also acknowledging

the AFSA staff who gave me a

crash course in labor law and

saved me from stumbling on

multiple occasions. General

Counsel

Sharon Papp

and

Deputy GC

Raeka Safai

were at my side through

every negotiation, providing

crucial advice and wording

that enabled us to protect

our members’ rights and

interests.

Labor-management attor-

neys and advisers

Zlatana

Badrich, Neera Parikh,

Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan,

Jason Snyder, James Yorke

and

Patrick Bradley

not only

handled the bulk of member

inquiries and cases, but also

helped me scour proposed

policies for potential prob-

lems. Executive Assistant

Jaya Duvvuri

made sure

nothing fell through the

cracks, including my energy

level.

Without question, the very

best part of my day every

day for the last two years has

been getting to work with

such incredible people who

genuinely enjoy helping our

members.

Thank you, all.

n

50

JULY-AUGUST 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

I had to get up to speed quickly on a

wide variety of issues and remember to

think through the possible implications

of each issue for all our members.