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54
F OR E I GN S E R V I C E J OU R N A L / J U L Y - A UGU S T 2 0 1 2
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2012 AFSA OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AWARD WINNERS
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hile assigned to the German-led Regional Command
North headquarters platform in Mazar-e-Sharif,
Afghanistan, Office Management Specialist JimVelez
put his previous 26 years of experience serving in the U.S. Army,
followed by Foreign Service assignments to Baghdad, Jakarta and
Brussels, to good use. He took on many of the functions of a
facilities manager, assistant general services officer, translator and
morale booster.
“It wasn’t long after my arrival before I realized that my mili-
tary background would serve me well in this unique operational
environment. The offices and residences of the U.S. senior civil-
ian representative required frequent facilities maintenance-type
support and liaison with a variety of German and NATO offices
located throughout the large base,” Velez adds.
The German air base, Camp Marmal, serves as the platform
for five subordinate Provincial Reconstruction Teams. Prior to
Velez’s arrival, there had been tension between U.S. personnel
and their North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners, mostly
due to lack of proficiency in German. “Velez’s fluency in the
language, combined with his profound understanding of the
command structures of the U.S. military and NATO organiza-
tions, allowed him to actively engage our NATO counterparts,
thereby vastly improving the relationship,” the nomination
states.
Establishing rapport with key German maintenance person-
nel allowed Velez to respond to any issues or problems affecting
chief-of-mission personnel, whatever the hour. He had some-
one there when the heating systems in the residential containers
went out, when satellite problems arose, the cable systems need-
ed repair and when supplies were offloaded from embassy cargo
planes. He even found someone to assemble bicycles for staff
The Nelson B. Delavan Award
FOR A FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICE MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST
James R. Velez
E
ach year, AFSA singles out a Community Liaison Office
Coordinator for his or her job performance during the
previous year. This is no easy task. The exceptional
nature of the job tends to attract outstanding individuals.
AFSA looks for one CLO who has been not only willing and
able to take on the many challenges the position presents, but
somehow manages to do it all and more.
Sara Butler
proved her mettle
by re-establishing
the Community
Liaison Office in
earthquake-devas-
tated Port-au-
Prince and, in so
doing, trans-
formed the quality
of life for those
assigned there.
That was no small task given the extent of the damage and the
fact that it is her first Foreign Service post.
Information and resource management — skills she honed
as a congressional aide on Capitol Hill —proved to be among
Sara’s strong suits. She effectively collected a wealth of informa-
tion on Haiti for newly assigned personnel and those considering
bidding. She also revitalized the CLO intranet site; directed a
post video providing a realistic picture of what people can expect
at post; and revised and produced newmaterial on Port-au-
Prince for the Overseas Briefing Center.
Another particularly noteworthy endeavor was the CLO
Yellow Pages. After the quake destroyed landlines, many busi-
nesses were forced to switch to cell phones. Sara, along with
Quisha Calixte, the locally engaged staff administrative assistant
in the CLO office, spent three months canvassing local business-
es, collecting more than 250 listings.
Sara has proven to be a strong advocate for community
needs during the rebuilding phase of the mission. The manage-
ment section relied on her innate ability to consider the needs of
others and to gauge the effect management decisions could have
on post morale. These skills were essential, given high personnel
turnover and a 40-percent loss of post housing stock.
Sara’s perspective says it all: “It can be easy at hardship posts
to focus on what is not available. I really wanted to embrace the
challenge of finding creative ways to organize events and activi-
ties within Haiti’s parameters.” A Habitat for Humanity project,
The M. Juanita Guess Award
FOR A COMMUNITY LIAISON OFFICE COORDINATOR
Sara Butler
Jim Velez with his trusty vehicle, Max.
Sara Butler plays with a child at the Rose Mina
Orphanage.
Continued on page 59
Continued on page 58