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78
SEPTEMBER 2013
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
AFSA NEWS
AFSA EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE AWARDS : THE M. JUAN I TA GUESS AWARD
FOR A COMMUNI TY L I A I SON OFF ICE COORDINATOR
Jessica McVay Keeps Evacuees Informed and Spirits High
Jessica McVay began service
as the community liaison
o ce coordinator in Khar-
toum in May 2012. Jess was
attending CLO training when
the embassy was attacked on
Sept. 14, 2012. The embassy
immediately went into
ordered departure status.
Most of the mission’s Foreign
Service employees and every
eligible family member,
including Jess, were evacu-
ated to Athens as a tempo-
rary safe haven. By October,
the ordered departure was
extended and the community
returned to Washington, D.C.
With the community in
disarray, Jess singlehandedly
kept esprit de corps alive by
organizing events, providing
information and staying in
close contact with everyone.
“I ferried people to doctor’s
appointments, organized
social events and connected
evacuees to counseling and
support services, housing
providers and other subject-
matter experts,” said Jess.
As the ordered departure
entered the sixth and fnal
exhausting month, Jess
maintained an amazingly
positive, upbeat attitude
with all evacuees, provid-
ing much-needed support
and encouragement. She
selfessly set aside her own
hardships and challenges
of being separated from her
husband, devoting all of her
time, energy, compassion
and concern to her fellow
evacuees.
During her time in Wash-
ington, Jess worked full-time
supporting our evacuees out
of the Family Liaison O ce.
She is quick to note that
“FLO staf members Dianna
Rooney, Charles Roe, Lycia
Sybilla and Kathy Loken all
provided tremendous sup-
port to me and our commu-
nity during the entire ordered
departure period.”
Throughout the evacua-
tion, Jess focused on what
was best for the evacuees.
She actively sought their per-
spectives and carefully pre-
sented them to the embassy
and the department.
Refecting on her expe-
rience, Jess remarks:
“Khartoum is a di cult, yet
rewarding Foreign Service
assignment. The community
consists of dedicated locally
FSYF Family Welcome Back Picnic
On Sunday, Sept. 15, at
4 p.m. at Nottaway Park,
Vienna, Va. The Foreign
Service Youth Foundation’s
picnic honors FS families
who are returning from
overseas. Make new friends,
connect with old friends and welcome home your
colleagues. All U.S. FS families are welcome. RSVP
to
fsyf@fsyf.org
before Sept. 9.
employed staf and Ameri-
cans who work incredibly
hard, while making many
sacrifces to serve here. In
addition, from events to plan-
ning and information sharing,
ofering to help our commu-
nity members with the “little
things,” during a long period
of uncertainty contributed to
a sense of normalcy.”
It is during times of crisis
when the strength, integ-
rity and support of the CLO
is most needed, and Jess
rose to the occasion in a
remarkable way. As stressful,
frustrating, expensive and
depressing as the evacuation
has been on everyone—both
for evacuees and those left
at post— having Jess in that
role made the ordeal more
bearable.
n
Jessica McVay is presented the M. Juanita Guess Award by Jon Clements,
CEO of Clements Worldwide. Jessica ministered to her evacuated
community for six months, providing information, assistance and support.