As a professional association and labor union, AFSA seeks to highlight achievement, performance, courage and sacrifice within the Foreign Service community. Our awards program began in 1968 and has continued to expand to recognize the work of our colleagues. We are proud to be able to spotlight the best of our community.
Constructive Dissent Awards: AFSA's Constructive Dissent Awards recognize Foreign Service members who work constructively within the system to change policy and performance for the better. Such dissent may be made in any non-public channel including meetings, emails to superiors, memoranda, telegrams, or via the State Department's formal Dissent Channel. Thus, AFSA's Constructive Dissent Awards may be given to, but are not restricted to, employees who send in Dissent Channel messages. These awards are unique within the federal government, and remain the lynchpin of AFSA’s awards program. There is no democracy without dissent, and the U.S. Foreign Service must remain a leader in the encouragement of respectful yet provocative constructive dissent.
Exemplary Performance Awards: These six awards are meant to highlight the professionalism and spirit of service and volunteerism found within the Foreign Service community. These awards honor community liaison officers, office management specialists, family members, and AFSA post representatives for their important contributions at work, at home and in the community at large. We also honor (non-monetary) contributions to AFSA and those who have excelled in the advancement of democracy.
Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy: Each year, AFSA selects a truly inspiring and respected diplomat or public servant to receive our highest award for their contributions to the conduct and success of American diplomacy. The criteria call for a sustained commitment to the cause for a good portion of their professional lives; with a roster of previous winners ranging from President George H.W. Bush to Senator Sam Nunn to Ambassador Richard Parker, there is no shortage of patriots and practitioners of diplomacy from whom to choose.
Sinclaire Language Awards: The study of hard languages is an important part of any Foreign Service career. These awards celebrate those Foreign Service employees who have demonstrated the greatest facility and success in learning and utilizing of such languages in their work. (For those nominated for their learning, the training may have taken place at FSI, elsewhere, or individually.) The awards are made possible through a generous bequest from former FSO Mathilda W. Sinclaire.
George F. Kennan Writing Award: Each year, AFSA honors the State Department employee whose essay has been chosen as the best from among their cohort during the National War College graduation ceremonies. Named after George Kennan, AFSA is proud to sponsor an award in the tradition of a man whose writing skills literally changed American foreign policy.
AFSA Memorial Plaques: Two large memorial plaques in the C Street lobby of the Department of State honor those of our colleagues who have given their lives in service to their country. AFSA is proud to administer these plaques to preserve the memory of these courageous individuals. Each year, we add names and honor those on the plaques during a solemn ceremony on Foreign Affairs Day.
Note that we accept awards nominations all year, but the deadline for 2021 is Monday, May 17. Anyone may send in a nomination; self-nominations are also accepted for performance awards.
AFSA is grateful to the many individuals and organization that make our awards and honors programs possible through their generous support. Our thanks to the Delavan Foundation, the Ambassador William R. Rivkin family, the Avis Bohlen family, Dr. Sushma Palmer, and Clements Worldwide. Their dedication to the Foreign Service community is greatly appreciated.
All of AFSA’s awards programs, as well the AFSA memorial plaques, are administered by AFSA's Awards and Scholarships Manager, Theo Horn. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org and (202) 719-9705. AFSA’s Awards and Plaques Committee has institutional oversight over these programs and has primary responsibility for the recommendation of award recipients and plaque honorees.