American Foreign Service Association

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American Foreign Service Association
Logo of American Foreign Service Association
Legal status501(c)(5) professional association[1]
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., United States[1]
Coordinates38°53′46″N 77°02′49″W / 38.896194°N 77.046940°W / 38.896194; -77.046940Coordinates: 38°53′46″N 77°02′49″W / 38.896194°N 77.046940°W / 38.896194; -77.046940
Eric S. Rubin[2]
AffiliationsAmerican Foreign Service Association Scholarship Fund,
Fund for American Diplomacy,
American Foresign Service Association PAC[1]
Revenue (2014)
Expenses (2014)$4,467,879[1]
Employees (2014)
Volunteers (2014)

American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), established in 1924, is the professional association of the United States Foreign Service. With over 15,000 dues-paying members, American Foreign Service Association represents 28,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees of the Department of State and Agency for International Development (AID), as well as smaller groups in the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).

About AFSA[edit]

American Foreign Service Association's principal missions are to enhance the effectiveness of the Foreign Service, to protect the professional interests of its members, to ensure the maintenance of high professional standards for both career diplomats and political appointees, and to promote understanding of the critical role of the Foreign Service in promoting America's national security and economic prosperity.

American Foreign Service Association is the exclusive bargaining agent for the Foreign Service employees of all five agencies.[3][4] In this labor/management relations capacity, American Foreign Service Association negotiates with the agency management on personnel policies and practices affecting members' working conditions. American Foreign Service Association also represents members in formal grievance proceedings, office of security and inspector general investigations, and EEO cases, while providing them informal assistance in dealing with administrative problems.

Foreign Service retiree concerns[5] are an integral part of the American Foreign Service Association agenda. American Foreign Service Association works closely with retired Foreign Service personnel on legislative issues related to retiree pensions and benefits. Retirees, individually and through independent retiree groups around the country, actively promote the Foreign Service and international engagement in their communities.

In its efforts to explain the Foreign Service's role and to build domestic constituencies to support its activities, American Foreign Service Association operates a speakers' bureau,[6] which makes experienced diplomats available to speak to a wide range of groups all across the country. Through Road Scholar programs, American Foreign Service Association members conduct continuing education classes on the Foreign Service.


AFSA's Governing Board is elected by the membership every two years. The board's constitution is governed by the American Foreign Service Association's bylaws.[7] The board has 21 members for the 2019-2021 term.[8]

AFSA's president is Ambassador Eric S. Rubin, a career Foreign Service Officer and member of the Senior Foreign Service who served as U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria from 2016-2019.[9]


American Foreign Service Association maintains its headquarters building at 2101 E Street NW in Washington, DC. There are also smaller offices within the Department of State, USAID, and the Department of Commerce.


American Foreign Service Association's staff is divided into the following departments: Executive Office, Member Services, Advocacy, Scholarships, Communications, Foreign Service Journal, Business and Accounting, and Labor Management.


Since 1968, American Foreign Service Association has honored achievement, performance, courage and sacrifice within the Foreign Service community through their awards program. All of American Foreign Service Association's awards programs, as well the American Foreign Service Association's memorial plaques, are administered by American Foreign Service Association's Coordinator for Special Awards and Outreach.

Constructive Dissent Awards[edit]

American Foreign Service Association's Constructive Dissent Awards recognize Foreign Service members who work constructively within the system to change policy and performance for the better. Such dissents 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, American Foreign Service Association'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 center of American Foreign Service Association's awards program.[10] There are four awards:

Exemplary Performance Awards[edit]

Six Exemplary Performance Awards are given each year 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 American Foreign Service Association post representatives for their important contributions at work, at home and in the community at large. In addition, these awards honor contributions to American Foreign Service Association and those who have excelled in the advancement of democracy.[11]

  • Nelson B. Delavan Award
  • Avis Bohlen Award
  • M. Juanita Guess Award
  • AFSA Achievement and Contributions to the Association Award
  • Post Representative of the Year Award
  • Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy

Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy[edit]

The American Foreign Service Association established its award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in 1995. By giving this high-profile award, American Foreign Service Association also seeks to bring greater recognition to its other awards, including its unique annual awards for constructive dissent Candidates are proposed by American Foreign Service Association's Awards and Plaque Committee. The American Foreign Service Association governing board makes the final decision.

Originally, there were no criteria beyond those implied by the award's name. In 2009, the American Foreign Service Association's Governing Board specified that "lifetime" means at least a decade of service to diplomacy, ideally including continuing involvement after retirement. The contributions should include involvement in foreign policy development and/or implementation as well as efforts that advance the diplomatic profession. Recipients will normally be career diplomats, but may include other individuals in exceptional cases. Recipients must attend American Foreign Service Association's annual awards ceremony.

The presentation takes place during American Foreign Service Association's annual Awards Ceremony in June in the Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Room of the State Department. The Secretary of State is invited to present this award. If the Secretary is unable to attend, a distinguished individual who has worked with the recipient is asked to present the award. Colin Powell presented the award to Thomas Pickering and to George Shultz; Elliot Richardson presented the award to Frank Carlucci; Mr. Carlucci presented it to Lee Hamilton; Robert Zoellick presented it to Richard Lugar; Senator Lugar presented to award to Senator Nunn; and Lawrence Eagleburger presented the award to Joan Clark. Honorees are presented with a globe and certificate.

The Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy is American Foreign Service Association's highest award. It is offered to an inspiring and respected diplomat or public servant 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.

Previous Recipients of the Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy Award:

Year Given Recipient(s)
2015 William Harrop
2014 Charles Stuart 'Stu' Kennedy, Jr.
2013 George W. Landau
2012 William Lacy Swing
2011 Rozanne L. 'Roz' Ridgway
2010 L. Bruce Laingen
2009 Sen. Sam Nunn
2008 Thomas D. Boyatt
2007 Joan Clark
2006 Morton Abramowitz
2005 Sen. Richard Lugar
2004 Richard B. Parker
2003 George Shultz
2002 Thomas Pickering
2001 Rep. Lee Hamilton
2000 David Newsom
1999 Cyrus Vance
1998 Lawrence Eagleburger
1997 George H.W. Bush
1996 Frank Carlucci
1995 U. Alexis Johnson

Sinclaire Language Awards[edit]

These awards celebrate those Foreign Service employees who have demonstrated the greatest facility and success in the learning and utilization of languages in their career. This learning may have taken place at FSI or individually. The awards are made possible through a generous bequest from former Foreign Service Officer Mathilda W. Sinclaire.

George F. Kennan Strategic Writing Award[edit]

Each year, American Foreign Service Association honors[12] the State Department employee whose essay has been chosen as the best from among their cohort during the National War College graduation ceremonies. The award is named after George Kennan.[13][14]

AFSA Memorial Plaques[edit]

Two large memorial plaques in the C Street lobby of the Department of State honor colleagues who have given their lives in service to their country. Each year, names are added and those on the plaques are honored during a solemn ceremony on Foreign Affairs Day.[15]

AFSA National High School Essay Contest[edit]

The National High School Essay Contest[16] is available to all High School students in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and to U.S. citizens pursuing high school education abroad. The competition awards a $2,500 cash prize, a paid trip to Washington, D.C., to meet the Secretary of State and a tuition-free Semester at Sea upon enrollment at an accredited post-secondary institution.[17]

Selected publications[edit]

  • American Foreign Service Association; Dorman, Shawn (2003). Inside a U.S. embassy: how the foreign service works for America (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: American Foreign Service Association. ISBN 0964948826.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Taxes".American Foreign Service Association. Guidestar. December 31, 2014.
  2. ^ "AFSA Presidents". American Foreign Service Association. Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  3. ^ "State's Morsale improving 6 mmonths into ..." The Washington Post. July 20, 1989. ... (AFSA) .. professional association and bargaining agent of
  4. ^ "Security for Diplomats". December 23, 1999.
  5. ^ "Foreign Service". October 2, 2009. .. represents 23,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees
  6. ^ "Len Baldyga". (USC Center on Public Diplomacy). member of the American Foreign Service Association's speaker's bureau.
  7. ^ "AFSA Bylaws, as amended June 12, 2019". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  8. ^ "Governing Board". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  9. ^ "2019-2021 AFSA Governing Board". Retrieved November 9, 2019.
  10. ^ "Constructive Dissent Awards". American Foreign Service Association. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  11. ^ "Exemplary Performance Awards". American Foreign Service Association. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  12. ^ "George F. Kennan Strategic Writing Award".
  13. ^ "Real Post of the Month". May 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Josh Glazeroff".
  15. ^ Roger Cohen (July 28, 2017). "The Desperation of Our Diplomats". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "Out of the Classroom and Into the World: 70-Plus Places to Publish Teenage Writing and Art". The New York Times. November 15, 2018.
  17. ^ "Essay Contest". Retrieved March 30, 2016.