Page 44 - Foreign Service Journal - September 2013

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44
SEPTEMBER 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT
AWARDWINNERS:
WHERE ARE
THEY NOW?
D
issent is a career killer!
Dissenters go far in the Service!
Which one of these statements
is true?
To answer that question, and
help put AFSA’s four-decade-
old dissent awards program into
perspective, we looked back
over the AFSA dissent award
winners between 1990 and 2012. We reached out to winners
in each of the four award categories for their thoughts about
the impact of their dissent, and AFSA’s recognition of it, on
both U.S. policy and their careers.
If the responses from these individuals (one of whom rep-
resents a group of 13) ofer any guide, it appears that dissent-
ing and being recognized for it does not usually harm one’s
career. Many of the winners of the AFSA constructive dissent
awards have gone on to serve as ambassadors and in other
high-level positions. Only one ofcer in our group of respon-
dents, Edmund McWilliams, feels that his dissent helped end
his Foreign Service career, although that did not relate to the
AFSA recognition. Te others seem to have fared quite well
FOCUS
AFSA’S AWARDS PROGRAM
inside the system following their dissent. Not one of them
regretted their decision to speak out.
As you will see from their thoughtful comments, the impact
of dissenting on one’s career depends on factors such as: how
and where that dissent is initiated, its substance, who is dis-
senting and whether that person is in a good position to judge,
what or even whom the dissent was opposing, and, frankly,
whether the dissenter is proven to be right.
Here, then, in their own words, are eight individuals who
were honored for dissent within the past 20 years: Eric Rubin
(State, William R. Rivkin Award for mid-level ofcers); Michael
Guest (State, Christian A. Herter Award for senior-level of-
cers); Dennis Jett (State, Herter Award); Keith Mines (State,
Rivkin Award); Diana Putman (USAID, Rivkin Award); Dean
Kaplan (State, W. Averell Harriman Award for entry-level of-
cers); Edmund McWilliams (State, Herter Award); and Andre de
Nesnera (IBB, Tex Harris Award for Foreign Service specialists).
Note: All photos are courtesy of the dissent winners inter-
viewed for this article.
Shawn Dorman, a former FSO, is associate editor of the
Journal
and edi-
tor/publisher of Foreign Service Books, AFSA’s book publishing division.
Eight Foreign Service members honored for dissent over
the past 20 years talk about the impact of their dissent,
and AFSA’s recognition of it, on U.S. policy and their careers.
BY SHAWN DORMAN