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


SOSA 2013 winner Gretel Patch in Kathmandu.


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. Previous nominees can be reconsidered if an updated summary statement is included.

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.

For more infomation about this award, click here, or email

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

In 2010, AAFSW celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad. Since 1990 AAFSW has sponsored and administered this prestigious awards program.  All active American USG direct-hire employees, their spouses and family members, their domestic partners and members of household are eligible.  In the past 20 years, over 400 nominees have been recognized for their outstanding volunteer service in over 130 countries around the globe.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary and honor all SOSA nominees, AAFSW launched an online publication with a forward from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  The publication provides the history and background of the SOSA award, as well as compelling profiles and highlights from each of the six geographic bureaus within the Department of State.

Through their selfless actions, these SOSA winners and nominees have changed lives and saved lives and have inspired others to volunteer as well.

Use the links below to read (in PDF format) chapters of The SOSA Project

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…

                                                        2012 SOSA winner Karl P. Deringer in Kigali.

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.

Funding for the award includes donations from former Secretaries of State, AAFSW members and an annual donation from the Green Family Foundation, which supports social action.

The SOSA Award recognizes volunteer efforts at posts overseas in the following areas:

1.) Remarkable service to the mission community.

2.) Outstanding activities directed towards the host country.

3.) Exceptional service in emergency situations. Evaluation factors considered in the selection process include scope and reach of activities, sustainability, ingenuity, and leadership.

Read more about the history of the SOSA awards and highlights from some of the winning projects over the years in “The SOSA Project: Foreign Service Volunteers – 20 Years of Grassroots Diplomacy.”

For more information about the SOSA award .

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