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The Secretary of State’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA)

The annual AAFSW/Secretary of State’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) recognizes the outstanding volunteer activities of U.S. Government employees,  spouses, family members over the age of 18, EFM domestic partners, and members of household who are living and working overseas.

The winners of the Secretary of State’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) are selected by a panel of representatives from AAFSW, FLO and the Executive Director or representative from each State Department geographic bureau. Full profiles of these volunteers are published annually in AAFSW’s Global Link newsletter and on this website.

Congratulations to the 2014 winners of the SOSA Award!

  • Sgt. Kyle Romero (AF)
  • Kerry Carswell (EUR)
  • Shilpa Gadde (SCA)
  • Jose Ramirez Dorce, Fernando Marcelo Alvarez, and Liana Maria Alvarez (WHA)
Read more about the 2014 winners and their accomplishments…

Past SOSA Winners

These past SOSA winners represent the true spirit of volunteerism by making remarkable contributions in their communities, both American and host country, while serving abroad. They demonstrate grass-roots diplomacy at its best.

  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Orlando (AF)
  • Jameson DeBose (EAP)
  • Marilyn Kott (EUR)
  • Amber Boyd-Eiholzer (NEA)
  • Gretel Patch (SCA)
  • Megan Gallardo (WHA)
  • AF: Karl P. Deringer, Kigali
  • EAP: Cassandra D. Brenn, Hanoi
  • EUR: Elizabeth Joy Shaffer, Skopje
  • NEA: Jan Cote-Cartwright, Tel Aviv
  • SCA: Dr. Charles E. Wright, New Delhi
  • WHA: Amy L. Zimmerman, Brasilia
  • AF: Edward (Mick) Davis, Kisumu
  • EAP: Sean Meyers, Rangoon
  • EUR: Chong O. Farquhar, Yerevan
  • NEA: Matthew David Meredith, Tunis
  • SCA: Nam A. Nguyen, Chennai
  • WHA: Maria Del Carmen Miller, Quito
  • AF: Shirley A. Winter – Yaounde (AF)
  • EAP: Shameera M. Wiest – Kuala Lumpur (EAP)
  • EUR: Mindy R. Michels and Melissa E. Schraibman – Tirana (EUR)
  • SCA: Beth A. Brownson – Mumbai (SCA)
  • WHA: Jose M. Torres – San Jose (WHA)

The SOSA Project: Foreign Service Volunteers – 20 Years of Grassroots Diplomacy

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA). To commemorate the anniversary and honor all SOSA nominees, AAFSW has launched an on-line publication including the history and background of the SOSA award, as well as compelling profiles and highlights. Read more about the SOSA project…

You can read an article from State Magazine (February 2010) about the 2009 awards ceremony.

Click here to read a Reuters story about the 2009 awards and the awards ceremony.
A recipient is chosen from each of the Department of State’s six geographical bureaus. Each winner receives:

  • A cash award of $2,500.
  • A pin commemorating the annual AAFSW awards ceremony.
  • A certificate signed by the Secretary of State.

The SOSA 2008 winners were featured in the April 2009 issue of the Foreign Service Journal. Click here and navigate to page 44 to read the article.

Click here to read an article in State Magazine (January 2009) about the 2008 SOSA award winners (PDF).

Click here to read about the December 9, 2008 awards ceremony for the 2008 winners and view photos of the event.

SOSA Background

The SOSA award was created in 1990 with the direct encouragement and support of then Secretary of State James A. Baker and his wife Susan.  AAFSW administers the award through generous contributions from former Secretaries of State as well as AAFSW members.

Since 2005, Ambassador Steven J. Green of the Green Family Foundation has made a generous annual contribution to the SOSA awards.  The Green Family Foundation was established to support groups and individuals working for social change.

Nominations are accepted from posts worldwide and cover volunteer activities in one or more of the following categories:

  • Exceptional service to the USG community at post.
  • Outstanding activities directed toward the host country.
  • Exceptional service in emergencies at post.

Specifics on qualification requirements and nomination procedures are published annually in a Department of State worldwide cable.

For more information about the SOSA award, contact

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