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Foreign Service 101 on Capitol Hill





December 2

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

December 3

2-3:30 p.m.

“Emerging U.S. Security

Partnerships in Southeast


December 25


AFSA Offices Closed

January 1

New Year’s Day: AFSA

Offices Closed

January 6

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

January 15

Deadline: Sinclaire

Language Awards


January 18

Martin Luther King Day:

AFSA Offices Closed

February 3

12-2 p.m.

AFSA Governing

Board Meeting

February 6

Deadline: Community

Service and Art/Academic

Merit Awards

February 15

Presidents’ Day: AFSA

Offices Closed

February 18

2-3:30 p.m.

AFSA Book Notes: “Foreign

Policy Breakthroughs”

February 28

Deadline: AFSA Dissent

& Performance Awards


The American Foreign

Service Association

recently partnered

with the Foreign Affairs

Congressional Staff

Association to host a

panel titled “Strong

Diplomacy in Today’s

World: U.S. Foreign

Service 101.”The event

was held on Oct. 15 at

the Longworth House

Office Building on Cap-

itol Hill and included

panelists AFSA

President Ambassador

Barbara Stephenson,

Retiree Representative ad

interimAmbassador Pat Bute-

nis and Foreign Service Officer

Ramon Escobar.

During the past three

years, AFSA has co-hosted a

number of learning sessions

on the Foreign Service for Hill

staffers in coordination with

congressional affinity groups.

This year’s partner, FACSA,

is a bipartisan-bicameral

group that promotes profes-

sional development for those

working in Congress who are

interested in issues related to

the conduct of foreign affairs.

Addressing an audience

of more than 85 legisla-

tive assistants, fellows and

interns, Amb. Stephenson

described the Foreign Service

as an indispensable asset to

national security and high-

lighted its distinction as the

only organization in the world

whose members are deployed

around the globe.


She then explained how

certain threats to the For-

eign Service workforce pose

serious challenges to the

effectiveness of our diplo-

matic efforts and, thereby,

American interests overseas.

Hiring of entry-level officers

has fluctuated wildly, from

more than 700 in 2010 to only

280 this year. This has created

a bulge of mid-level officers

competing for available

positions under the rota-

tion system required by the

Foreign Service’s competitive

up-or-out promotion system,

while not generating sufficient

entry-level officers to handle

the growing demand for visa

work—and possibly contribut-

ing to a shortfall of seasoned

mid-level FSOs seven to 10

years in the future.

The panelists gave a brief

presentation on how they

came to enter the Foreign

Service and offered a few

vignettes from their individual

experiences as professional

diplomats. Speakers touched

on everything from the

process of joining the Foreign

Service to the effects of secu-

rity leaks on how embassies

conduct business, and the

realities of a mobile lifestyle to

balancing risk with effective


Following an engaging

Q&A, AFSA hosted a meet-

and-greet happy hour at Tor-

tilla Coast on Capitol Hill. The

gathering provided another

opportunity for congressional

staffers to meet members of

the Foreign Service, includ-

ing representatives from the

Young Professionals at USAID

group, the Blacks in Govern-

ment Carl T. Rowan Chapter

at State, and the Donald M.

Payne International Develop-

ment Fellowship Program.


—Shannon Mizzi,

Editorial Assistant

AFSA Retiree Representative ad interimAmbassador Pat Butenis (left), AFSA President

Ambassador Barbara Stephenson (center) and Foreign Service Officer Ramon Escobar

(right) speak about the mission of the Foreign Service to congressional staffers.