THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
ON EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE & CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT
Lack of fairness and transparency in the assignment restrictions
process undercuts both employees and the State Department.
Asian-American employees took it on.
In Pursuit of Transparency
or many years State Department employees
from particular ethnic backgrounds have
faced barriers to particular assignments. The
process has precluded some Foreign Service
and Civil Service employees from serving
in certain posts overseas or taking up some
domestic positions and even short-term,
overseas temporary duty assignments based
on their ethnicity.
The assignment restrictions issue has been a long-standing
one for Asian Americans at the department. The Asian-Pacific
American Foreign Affairs Council was founded in 1981 to sup-
port equal employment opportunity for Asian American and
BY CHR I ST I NA T. L E AND THOMAS T. WONG
Christina T. Le is a career Foreign Service officer currently in long-term language training for her next assignment, to
Japan. She has previously served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, on the Philippines desk in the Bureau of East
Asian & Pacific Affairs, and overseas in Greece and Mexico.
Thomas T. Wong is a Foreign Service officer assigned to the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. His previous postings include
Guadalajara and consecutive tours in Washington in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Prior to joining the Foreign Service
in 2010, Mr. Wong served in the U.S. Army. His wife, Suzanne Wong, is also a Foreign Service officer and they have two children.
Christina Le andThomas Wong are the current and past presidents of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association, respectively. The
views expressed in this article are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of State or U.S. government. Le, Wong
and their colleagues Mariju L. Bofill and Cecilia S. Choi received this year’s WilliamR. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Level Officer.
Pacific Islander officers. Renamed the Asian American Foreign
Affairs Association in 2007, the association supports the equal
employment opportunity mission of the foreign affairs agen-
cies and supports the career advancement of AAPI employees
by organizing and hosting career development and leadership
seminars, and utilizing the experience and skills of high-
ranking officials to impart knowledge on the next generation of
Today, AAFAA is an association of some 750 Civil Service
and Foreign Service officers, specialists, fellows, contractors,
interns and retirees, with the mission to improve recruitment,
outreach and professional development of AAPI officers at the