THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
reform effort that
saw improved relations with the United
States, along with historic U.S.-Soviet
summits and nuclear arms control agree-
This experience showed me the value
of diplomacy. It also introduced me to
the extraordinary individuals of the U.S.
Foreign Service who practice it, no matter
the conditions or hardship.
These diplomats, some of the smartest
people I’d ever met, were determined to
understand the truth of the situation on
the ground, to share that with Washing-
ton and to help develop, refine and sup-
port the administration’s policies.
They served faithfully and effectively,
without fanfare or bluster or the expecta-
tion of winning a prize. And as a result,
relationships were fostered, understand-
ing was gained, and diplomacy worked.
Similarly today, in the face of Vladimir
Putin’s order that Embassy Moscow and
the U.S. consulates reduce staff by 755,
the embassy team will continue doing
the diplomacy it’s there to do, no matter
The Foreign Service is quite accus-
tomed to “doing more with less,” but
sometimes such challenges go to the
bone. Current conditions in Washing-
ton—the hiring freeze, departmental
reorganization (oddly called the “rede-
sign”) and proposed 30 percent budget
cuts for State and USAID—present such
The hiring freeze, in particular, has left
many scratching their heads wondering
“to what end?” While limited hiring has
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
Stories of Excellence
BY SHAWN DORMAN
hirty years ago, fresh out of
Cornell with a double major in
Soviet studies and government,
I headed over to Moscow. I was
going to fill one of the many jobs vacated
when the Soviets pulled all the Russian
staff out of the embassy in the wake of the
Lonetree spy scandal.
The Americans working for the U.S.
diplomatic mission in the USSR had to
pick up all the work that had been done
by local staff, including the jobs of drivers,
nannies, laborers, clerks.
I signed on as a nanny for a U.S. diplo-
matic family. With a Top Secret clear-
ance from having served as an intern on
the Soviet Desk at State, I was quickly
recruited to also help out in a stretched
The political section was in a
cramped, crumbling, internal part of the
“old” chancery—the new one standing
empty since listening devices had been
discovered embedded inside the walls.
Security restrictions in place dictated that
American diplomats could not meet with
Russians alone, so I got to tag along with
political officers to fascinating meetings
with dissidents and other contacts.
lance of U.S.
was also 1987,
the early days
Shawn Dorman is the editor of
The Foreign Service Journal.
resumed, the disruption continues.
To follow our July-August article,“How the Hiring Freeze Is Affecting Fam- ily Member Employment,” we reached
out to the FS community for feedback
from the field. We heard from dozens of
employees and family members: You’llfind a compilation of messages in Letters- Plus, and the full set of responses on our
Through the disruptions of unfilled
positions and department “redesign,” it
is appropriate to remind ourselves—and
fellow Americans—of diplomacy’s criti-
cal role in national security and the vital
work of the U.S. Foreign Service.
This month we focus on excellence.
We spotlight many outstanding members
of the Foreign Service by sharing the
stories of this year’s AFSA award winners.
These awards honor FS members who
make a difference—through exemplary
performance or constructive dissent,
by promoting democracy, by support-
ing their local community and through
a lifetime of contributions to American
diplomacy.In these pages we salute Ambassador Nancy Powell, recipient of AFSA’s Life-
time Contributions to American Diplo-
macy Award;constructive dissent award
winners Elzar Camper, Wendy Brafman,
Mariju Bofill, Cecilia Choi, Thomas Wong
and Christina Le; Mark Palmer Award
for the Advancement of Democracy
recipients René Gutel and Ambassador
Tulinabo Mushingi; and exemplary per-
formance award winners Diane Corbin,
Aubrey Dowd, Henry Throop and John