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

Contact:

mark.petry@fas.usda.gov

or (202) 720-2502

FAS VP VOICE

| BY MARK PETRY

AFSA NEWS

Looking Forward

In my final VP column, I

want to look ahead to the

Foreign Agricultural Ser-

vice that I hope to see in 10

years.

I believe that FAS has a

bright future representing

the Department of Agricul-

ture and the U.S. govern-

ment on important global

issues—not only food trade,

but also land use, food

security and climate. I think

that we must do better at

imagining and embracing

our potential, rather than

focusing on what we are

against.

One of our best assets is

our tight-knit community.

To sustain ourselves as a

healthy workplace, we need

to keep our small-town

feel. I strongly believe that

our FAS Foreign Service

community will not thrive

without the willingness to

pitch in and selflessly give

our time or assistance when

our friends and colleagues

need help or must change

plans unexpectedly. We can

not and should not expect

to always be immediately

rewarded, but our com-

munity remembers and is

willing to extend a hand to

those who have done their

part in the past.

While we are currently

vexed by poor personnel

decisions made in the past,

I feel that we can move past

them. Experienced officers

who take up the challenges

caused by past leadership

decisions will deserve the

right to lead our ranks and

to shape excellent new offi-

cers, who will undoubtedly

have to take difficult stretch

assignments.

During this time, the real

challenge will be to exhibit

leadership in an agency

already dangerously close to

being overwhelmed by the

Civil Service.

We must sharpen our

mission focus. Technology

and evolving cooperator

dynamics are quickly chang-

ing the types of services

that we need to provide.

We must be vigilant in

ensuring that we are serving

our constituents in the best

way possible. We should

continue to fine-tune our

unique combination of

inherently government func-

tions with the value-added

market services that benefit

our industry and make us

unique.

Our first opportunity

is apparent. Secretary of

Agriculture Sonny Per-

due recently announced

his intention to follow the

congressional recommenda-

tion to reorganize USDA to

include a trade under sec-

retary. At its best, a force-

ful person in this position

can bring USDA a greater

focus on trade and greater

voice inside the agency as a

whole.

While most aspects of

this are out of our control,

it is a great chance to show

our value and influence the

future of our agency.

Moving forward together

as one community, FAS will

remain a great place to work

and serve our country.

n

April Minutes:

On behalf of the Minutes Approval Commit-

tee, Retiree Representative Ambassador (ret.) John Limbert

set forth the minutes of the April 5 Governing Board meeting.

There were no amendments from the board.

Scholarship Donors:

The Governing Board reviewed a pro-

posed Memorandum of Understanding for new scholarship

donors. State Representative Ramon Escobar moved that

the MOU be returned to the Executive Committee for further

review. The motion was approved.

Position Description:

State Vice President Angie Bryan

moved that the Governing Board approve the revised

position description for the State vice president to include

supervision of the AFSA general counsel and Labor Man-

agement staff. The motion was approved.

Retiree Coordinator:

Retiree Vice President Ambassador

(ret.) Tom Boyatt moved that the Governing Board approve

the creation of a new Retiree Outreach Coordinator posi-

tion. The motion was approved.

Committee on Elections:

Committee member Curt Whit-

taker gave a report on the AFSA election cycle to date.

Outreach to Agricultural Communities:

FAS Vice President

Mark Petry gave a report on the steps AFSA is taking to reach

out to agricultural communities and inform them of the work

the Foreign Service does and how it affects them.

n

AFSAGoverning Board Meeting, May 3, 2017

52

JULY-AUGUST 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL