FSA enjoyed a robust, healthy 90th birthday year in 2014.
We celebrated at an anniversary dinner on May 22, bringing
together a full spectrum of Foreign Service members from young-
est to oldest with AFSA staff, members of Congress and the media,
and senior administration officials. AFSA is in good shape, ener-
gized and committed to work for you and for the collective welfare
of the Foreign Service.
AFSA’s Four Pillars of Strength
The people who make AFSA relevant and active on your
behalf are organized into four groups or pillars.
First is the AFSA professional staff of 36 members. I
hope you will get to know them and enjoy working with
them as I do.
Second is the AFSA Governing board of 29 elected
members, who meet monthly to decide AFSA’s policy
direction. As the Board chairman, I enjoy working with
this diverse, intergenerational group from seven con-
stituencies (State, USAID, retirees, Foreign Commercial
Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, the Broadcasting
Board of Governors, and the Animal and Plant Health
Third are the members of the seven AFSA standing
committees, all volunteers. Their important work runs
from serving as judges on the Awards and Scholarship
Committees to selecting articles for publication on the
Editorial Board and attending congressional recep-
tions on the AFSA Political Action Committee.
Fourth are the 16,500 members of AFSA, which rep-
resents one of the highest participation rates of any pub-
lic sector employee organization. You support the For-
eign Service through your payment of dues, attendance
at AFSA events, participation in letter writing
campaigns and in many other ways.
We have many other sources of strength,
including our networks with other public sec-
tor unions and professional associations and, of
course, our secure financial standing.
Three Highlights This Year
AFSA has scored numerous wins for the For-
eign Service this year, collectively and individu-
ally, many of which are described in the follow-
ing pages. I would like to briefly highlight three.
In January, the Board adopted the “Guide-
lines for Successful Performance as a Chief of
Mission.” It addresses the question of what
should be the qualifications for the job of U.S.
ambassador. The guidelines cite the Foreign
Service Act of 1980 and draw on the collective
experience of our ambassadors to offer four
qualifications for office that should apply to all ambassadorial
nominees. The document has been widely cited in the press, and
is now used by the State Department in drafting each nominee’s
Certificate of Demonstrated Competence, which is posted on the
department’s website prior to the nominee’s confirmation hearing.
This transparency initiative is a promising step toward moderat-
ing the practice of appointing non-career ambassadors.
In April, AFSA’s advocacy with the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee paid off for 1,800 Foreign Service members awaiting
Robert J. Silverman
President Bob Silverman addresses visiting Chiefs of Mission at a breakfast
held in their honor at AFSA headquarters in March 2014.