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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

a challenge.

The hiring freeze, in particular, has left

many scratching their heads wondering

“to what end?” While limited hiring has


Stories of Excellence



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

political section.

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.



and surveil-

lance of U.S.

diplomats was

ongoing, this

was also 1987,

the early days

of Mikhail


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’ll

find 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


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