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AFSAHits the Congressional Caucus Circuit

The American Foreign Ser-

vice Association’s advocacy

efforts ensure that the

Foreign Service has a voice

in the halls of Congress and

among key stakeholders

within the federal govern-

ment. This work is critical

for securing the necessary

resources and the rightful

recognition and benefits that


our members deserve.

Not only does AFSA meet

with legislative interlocutors

on a weekly basis, we also

take every opportunity to

liaise with stakeholders in

settings beyond Capitol Hill.

Most recently, AFSA rep-

resentatives connected with

lawmakers, members of the

media, special interest groups,

private sector leaders and

celebrities at the Congres-

sional Black Caucus Founda-

tion’s 45th Annual Legislative

Conference Phoenix Awards

Dinner and the 36th Annual

Congressional Hispanic Cau-

cus Institute Awards Gala.

The Phoenix Awards Din-

ner, held on Sept. 21, honored

those who have worked

tirelessly to advance equal

rights and protections for

African-Americans. The CHCI

Gala took place on Oct. 8 and

celebrated the outstanding

accomplishments of Latino

leaders who are making a

positive difference in their



—Maria C. Livingston,

Associate Editor


Vodka, Anyone?

While serving in Monrovia, I

received an unexpected visit

from a Soviet diplomat whom

I knew socially.

Juri closed the door firmly

behind him, which prompted

me to ask cheerfully if he was


“No,” came the peeved

reply, “but I am here on a sen-

sitive subject.” He related that

his embassy had been host-

ing so many visiting groups

fromMoscow that now, on

the eve of the great October

Revolution holiday, the chan-

cellery was out of vodka.

Aware that our embassy

had a commissary well

stocked with spirits, he asked

if I could arrange for the sale

of four cases—no, make that

six cases of vodka.

Although I was happy

to stimulate U.S. exports, I

cautioned Juri that our vodka

was Smirnoff, no doubt an

anti-Bolshevik enterprise. Juri

waived his hand irritably and

whispered conspiratorially,

“Vodka is vodka.”

With those words, I called

the commissary, set the

price and accepted a wad

of 20-dollar bills from Juri.

That afternoon, I entered the

USSR compound in my heav-

ily laden VW station wagon.

The next day at the recep-

tion, I noticed that there

were no Smirnoff bottles.

Clearly, the capitalist vodka

had magically found its way

into proletarian bottles.

When I raised my glass to

Juri, he gave me a sheepish

grin and shrugged.


—Thomas Johnson,

Retired FSO

Thomas Johnson served

with the U.S. Information

Agency and Department of

State for 25 years with assign-

ments to Asunción, Mexico

City, Monrovia, Heidelberg,

Frankfurt and Singapore. After

retiring, Johnson worked on

anti-corruption in State’s

Bureau of East Asian and

Pacific Affairs and on docu-

ment declassification.


LEFT: (l-r) Former Foreign Service Officer Pat Contreras, AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, CNN Political Commentator Maria Cardona, FSO

Ramon Escobar and American Israel Public Affairs Committee National Outreach Director Jeff Mendelsohn at the CHCI gala. RIGHT: (l-r) Representative Sheila

Jackson Lee (D-Texas) with AFSA Governing Board State Representative Lawrence Casselle at the CBC dinner.