Annual Report 2013 | American Foreign Service Association
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AFSA Annual Report 2013

2

As an executive director, I realize

that no organization is flawless,

and, yet, I recognize that in order

for an organization to progress

there must always be a thoughtful

desire to achieve that perfection.

When it comes to AFSA, that

desire burns bright. The board and

staff are dedicated, committed and

goal oriented. Consequently, our

organization achieved a great deal

in 2013, and I appreciate the opportunity to briefly report on

that growth.

AFSA’S GROWTH

This past year, AFSA retained an outside management

firm to review our operational structure. This exercise was

extremely beneficial in that it allowed us to step back from

the daily grind and directly address fundamental issues and

potential impediments. The review endorsed the positive

direction we have been headed over the last several years

in managing transition and growth from one era to the

next. It also allowed us to identify ways to improve and set

strategic operational goals. We moved quickly, but deliber-

ately, in making adjustments in certain positions across the

organization to enhance management oversight, empower

supervisors, and deepen services to members. A modernized

management and staffing structure was necessary to meet

the needs of a growing staff, a more complex organization,

and advance a set of robust goals.

REORGANIZATION

One significant change that occurred in 2013 was to enhance

and reorganize AFSA’s communications team. We built on

the strong existing group of staff by securing new profes-

sional talent. Additionally, by restructuring a management

system within this core communications group, we have

sparked creativity and innovation. The team is now part-

nering and collaborating with the advocacy team in ways

never before seen at AFSA. This has produced immediate

results—one example being a first of its kind reception on

Capitol Hill attended by members of Congress and key staff.

Further, the professional look and substance of external

material continued to improve. In fact, this annual report is

evidence of that improvement since AFSA has never before

had a report that flows in this way and is a stand-alone pub-

lication. We are increasingly becoming smarter and more

strategic in how we dispense material to external audiences

and the overall membership. As this new structure continues

to mature, results and production will be apparent this year

and going forward.

FINANCIAL STRENGTH

Another key area to report on relates to AFSA’s financial

posture and the overall stewardship of member resources.

We continue to receive the highest possible commenda-

tion: a clean (unmodified) opinion from an outside auditing

firm—this was achieved again in 2013. In other words, this

firm found no deficiencies in AFSA’s financial operations.

This reflects the fact that AFSA has steadily upgraded its

financial management and related governance procedures.

This process will continue this year. Our financial situation

in many respects has not been stronger. We have built a

healthy investment reserve over time, bolstered our scholar-

ship endowment, increased revenue and viewed expenses as

investments. Another significant financial asset is the AFSA

headquarters building, which we completely renovated a few

years back. The building’s value is significant. It is unusual

for an organization of our size to own prime property in

Washington, D.C. We continued to upgrade the building

in 2013 through investments in technical capabilities which

enhance AFSA’s professionalism.

OUR PROFESSIONALISM

As strong as that financial picture is, AFSA’s ultimate

mission is to serve the needs and advance the goals of our

membership. This leads me to one of this organization’s

strongest assets—the professional staff. The assembled pro-

fessional staff—whether it be advocacy, labor management,

scholarships,

The Foreign Service Journal

, communications,

Executive Director’s Report: Ian M. Houston

publications, member services, or retiree counseling—are

experienced, knowledgeable and service-oriented.

I hope this annual report will allow you an engaging

window into our operations and relevant accomplishments.

The central message from me is that AFSA as an organiza-

tion continued to improve in 2013. Our desire to do so will

only continue.

n

AFSA headquarters building at 2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C.