Annual Report 2013 | American Foreign Service Association
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7

AFSA Annual Report 2013

Retiree Vice President’s Report: Lawrence Cohen

As your vice president, I wish to highlight some of the retiree-related

issues in which AFSA is involved. Retiree benefits remain a target of

congressional cost-cutting. The move to a chained Consumer Price

Index method for calculating retiree benefits would reduce annuity pay-

ments only slightly in a single year. However, over time the impact of

the reduced payments rises. For younger and future retirees, the hit will

be significant. AFSA joined with other federal employee associations to

press for protection of these benefits.

Last August the State Department launched its new “centralized”

WAE (when actually employed) registry. Unfortunately, the new

program meets the needs of neither retirees seeking reemployment

opportunities nor the bureaus. In short, it does not substitute for the current system. We

continue to work collaboratively with the pertinent parts of the department to craft a better

registry system. Note that Foreign Service retirees from the other foreign affairs agencies are

also eligible to seek WAE work.

When visiting the State Department and its annexes, retirees ought to be afforded the

dignity they earned by their decades of service. Retirees may obtain passcode access badges.

Access for retirees to the Truman Building has improved in recent years. In some annexes,

despite the badges, building access even to unclassified areas remains a hassle. We continue to

press the department to facilitate retiree access in a dignified and hassle-free manner.

Unless one plans to expire at his or her desk—and a few of you may still be out there—all

career members of the Foreign Service ultimately become retirees. Thus, how AFSA helps

retirees today affects everyone, not just those who are no longer on active duty. Obviously,

your involvement and membership is vital. However, upon retirement, membership in AFSA

does not automatically transition. It must be renewed. HR and the Office of Retirement are

helping ease the retirement paperwork so that AFSA membership is not disrupted.

To stay involved outside the Washington, D.C., region, consider joining one of the Foreign

Service retiree associations around the country. AFSA updates the list of retiree associations

on its website regularly, and publishes its annual Retiree Directory to help keep Foreign Ser-

vice members connected.

By the close of 2013, we were in the process of bringing on Todd Thurwachter, retired

FCS FSO, as retiree coordinator.

Lastly, I want to thank Bonnie Brown, who retired in November, for her dedicated support

for Foreign Service retirees and many contributions to AFSA throughout 10 years of service.

She provided members with a wealth of information and was always there to assist and advise.

Her friendship and warmth will be missed. We wish her all the best in “retirement” from

retirement.

n

AFSA Support for Retirees

Awards: Recognizing Our Best

AFSA’s awards are meant to highlight the best of the Foreign Service community,

from those who have promoted American diplomacy for decades to entry-level

officers on their first tours.

Ambassador George W. Landau

received the 2013

Lifetime Contributions to

American Diplomacy Award

, honoring his many years of diplomatic service.

With the help of the Tiny Jewel Box, AFSA designed a pin that combines an eagle

and the AFSA seal in a small but beautiful design to be worn by the recipients

of the Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award. Ambassador Landau

became the first recipient of that pin.

AFSA strongly believes that our Foreign Service values a culture of honest and

vigorous debate within each of the foreign affairs agencies. To that end, AFSA

sponsors an annual awards program honoring those who have demonstrated the

courage to dissent in a constructive manner on a matter of policy or management.

The 2013

W. Averell Harriman Award

, given to an entry-level Foreign Service

officer for constructive dissent, went to

James T. Rider

. His dissent changed

and clarified the law that allowed U.S. citizenship given to children abroad whose

parents lacked sufficient physical presence in the United States to transmit citi-

zenship to their children.

Theodore Lyng

received the 2013

William R. Rivkin Award

, recognizing con-

structive dissent by a mid-level Foreign Service officer, for his advocacy of efforts

to improve Embassy Jakarta’s relations with the local Muslim community.

The

Avis Bohlen Award

honors the accomplishments of a Foreign Service family

member whose relations with the American and foreign communities at post have

done the most to advance the interests of the United States. The 2013 winner was

Leah Evans

, who created a website for “Kids in Kyiv.”

The

M. Juanita Guess Award

recognizes outstanding leadership and initiative

in assisting official Americans and their family members serving overseas. AFSA

conferred this award on two recipients in 2013,

Elizabeth Jenkins

(Caracas) and

Jessica McVay

(Khartoum).

The 2013 winner of the

Nelson B. Delavan Award

, recognizing an Office Man-

agement Specialist’s contributions to effectiveness and morale, was

Mikkela V.

Thompson

(Dhaka).

Last year’s

Sinclaire Language Awards

were conferred on

Anne Casper

(Kin-

yarwanda),

Vanna Chan

(Lithuanian),

Rebecca Danis

(Pashto),

Spencer Fields

(Albanian),

Christina Le

(Greek),

Dan McCandless

(Dari),

Robert Mearkle

(Arabic),

Nina Murray

(Lithuanian),

Roshni Nirody

(Japanese) and

Kristen

Pisani

(Greek).

The 2013

George Kennan Writing Award

, honoring the best paper by a State

employee enrolled at the National War College, went to FSO

Christina Higgins

.