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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

SEPTEMBER 2017

83

AFSA NEWS

AFSA EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE AWARDS

THE M. JUANITA GUESS AWARD FOR A COMMUNITY L IAISON OFF ICE COORDINATOR

AUBREY DOWD

Boosting Morale

in Bangladesh

It is a testament to Aubrey

Dowd’s skills as a community

liaison officer (CLO) in Dhaka

that AFSA received two sepa-

rate nominations for her to

receive the M. Juanita Guess

Award.

In her first week on the

job in August 2016, Ms. Dowd

was tasked with organizing

a “meet and greet” for the

embassy community with

then-Secretary of State John

Kerry. On short notice, she

planned detailed logistics for

a great event that drew 400

people and was a significant

morale boost for the com-

munity. It was a taste of what

Embassy Dhaka could expect

from their new CLO.

In the past two years,

Dhaka has changed from a

post where children attended

a local school and families

walked freely to one with a

curfew and movement restric-

tions. Following an attack on

July 1, 2016, at aWestern style

restaurant in which 22 people

(including a U.S. citizen) were

killed, the post was approved

for authorized departure.

On her own initiative, Ms.

Dowd created a comprehen-

sive database of all personnel

that filled critical information

gaps and allowed embassy

leadership to quickly answer

questions relating to depart-

ing families.

During this time, she also

acted as the lead point of con-

tact for embassy families left

stranded outside the country

when authorized departure

was declared in the middle of

the school holidays. Ms. Dowd

provided regular updates

and guidance on rules and

regulations for travel and

allowances.

“The calm throughout the

stormy aftermath of autho-

rized departure” is how one

nomination described Ms.

Dowd. Her approach proved

so successful that the Family

Liaison Office and Office of

Human Resources at the

Department of State are

developing best practices

based on her methods.

Under increasingly severe

security restrictions, it would

have been easy to give up on

arranging events. Instead,

Ms. Dowd worked overtime

to boost the morale of the

community.Working closely

with the Regional Security

Office to arrange trips to

local shops and restaurants,

she increased the number of

events from three to 15 per

month. She even donated her

own laptop to ensure that an

embassy trivia night could go

ahead after the failure of the

provided equipment.

As authorized departure

continued into late 2016, Ms.

Dowd worked closely with the

Regional Medical Officer-Psy-

chologist and Regional Medi-

cal Officer to create and dis-

tribute a post morale survey. A

separate survey was created

for eligible family members

evacuated during authorized

departure. Believed to be the

first such survey, it will allow

the department to better

evaluate the effect of evacua-

tion on family members.

Ms. Dowd sat on the

American Embassy Employ-

ees Association

Board, Interagency

Housing Board,

Post Employment

Committee, coun-

try team and the

Emergency Action

Committee, among

other bodies. Dur-

ing each meeting,

she represented the

needs and wants of

the community and

crafted mecha-

nisms to relay

critical information

back to the greater

community as

necessary.

Aubrey Dowd has been

affiliated with the United

States military and govern-

ment for her entire life, first as

a dependent, then a spouse

and finally as an employee.

She has a B.S. in early child-

hood education fromAugusta

State University and plans to

pursue a master’s degree in

social work when she returns

to the United States.

n

Aubrey Dowd (left) and her colleague Kathy Love prepare the back yard

of the chief of mission’s residence for the Embassy Dhaka Christmas

potluck party.

Aubrey Dowd receives the M. Juanita Guess

Award from Jon Clements. The award is named

for Mr. Clements’ mother.

COURTESYOFAUBREYDOWD

AFSA/TOYASARNOJORDAN