2016 AAFSW Awards Ceremony

The 26th Annual AAFSW Awards’ Program was presented by AAFSW President, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, on Thursday, November 10, 2016 at the Benjamin Franklin Reception Room at the Department of State. The Ceremony highlighted the exceptional volunteer work of ten remarkable individuals and can be viewed via Safari here (click link).

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide are grateful to have the continued support of former Secretary of State James Baker and his wife Mrs. Susan Baker, who helped establish this award in 1990 to recognize the goodwill of Americans for exceptional community service abroad, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Secretary of State George Shultz, the Ambassador Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University and the Green Family Foundation, as well as the support of the Center Family Foundation and the countless AAFSW members.

This year, AAFSW recognized six winners for the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) from the six geographical bureaus respectively. DACOR recognized the winner of the 2016 Tragen Award, AAFSW and the Champions of Career Enhancement for EFMs Employment Committee recognized the recipient of the 2016 CCE–EFM Award, and AAFSW recognized the winner of the 2016 Lesley Dorman Award.

AAFSW and the AAFSW President were grateful to welcome Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom who spoke at the ceremony and honored the awardees. The SOSA winners received a certificate of gratitude for their inspiring contributions signed by the Secretary of State, John Kerry, and AAFSW President, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen. Further, thanks to our generous donors, each one of the SOSA Awardees received a cash award of twenty five hundred dollars as well as a pin that reads “Outstanding Volunteer,” which commemorates the annual AAFSW Ceremony.

This year’s SOSA winners include: Ronit Kirshner Gerarg and Craig Gerard from Dakar, Senegal (African Bureau), who developed a project in a small, rural village in Senegal, Fougoulou, to help build resilience among subsistence farmers; Sofia Blake from Jakarta, Indonesia (East Asia and Pacific Bureau), who carried out a 12-month program to empower women community leaders in Indonesia; Miriam Engstrom from Ankara, Turkey (Europe and Eurasia Bureau), who runs a weekly counseling and stress relief group for Iraqi, Afghan and Iranian refugee women; Bob Castro from Manama, Bahrain (Near East Asia Bureau), who promoted health industry partnerships for the American Mission Hospital of Bahrain and fostered a reciprocal agreement between DACOR and a Bahrain private club; Jennifer Heemstra from Kolkata, India (South and Central Asia Bureau), who organized and performed in 50 concerts with visiting artists, university professors, and Broadway stars to promote intercultural understanding while offering health services; Farah Vinnedge from Brasilia, Brazil (Western Hemisphere and the Americas Bureau), who collected donated desks and chairs and provided them to schools and daycare centers in impoverished neighborhoods.

Following the presentation of the 2016 SOSA Awards, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and DACOR President, Ambassador Raymond Ewing, presented the Eleanor Dodson Tragen Award. This recognition, which comes with a two thousand dollar cash award, is funded by an annual gift by Mr. Tragen in memory of his late wife and is administered by DACOR to recognize a member of the Foreign Service Community who has effectively advocated for and enhanced the global rights and benefits of the Foreign Service Family.

This year’s award recipient, Leah Evans, was nominated by AAFSW President Emerita, Patricia Linderman, for establishing numerous networks abroad that provided much-needed social and charitable opportunities, for editing two books: “Raising Kids in the Foreign Service” and “A Cup of Culture and a Pinch of Crisis,” with royalties going to AAFSW, and for organizing the “Around the World 5K” race.

This year, AAFSW EFM Employment Committee and Bob Castro presented the CCE-EFM Award to Cindy Jones. This recognition comes with a seven hundred and fifty dollars cash award provided by AAFSW, and it honors an individual who has been proactive in advancing Eligible Family Member Employment. Cindy Jones greatly expanded family member employment at her post, Budapest, through advocacy and direct action. As Community Liaison Office Coordinator (CLO), Cindy organized language training for family members, networked with potential employers, successfully advocated for new jobs within the Mission, and created informational sessions.

This year’s Lesley Dorman Award was presented by Mette Beecroft, the AAFSW State Liaison. Lesley Dorman, who was a former AAFSW President, passed away on August 26, 2016. This award recognizes an AAFSW member who has performed outstanding service in all aspects of the organization and comes together with a silver plated engraved platter. The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide were honored to have members of the Dorman Family present at the 2016 AAFSW Award Ceremony. Together with Lesley Dorman’s friends Stephanie Kinney, Janet Lloyd, and Patty Ryan, Mette Beecroft presented the Lesley Dorman Award to June Carmichael.

June Carmichael has significantly contributed to AAFSW’s fundraising with her hard work and creative ideas such as the “Art in the Cart,” which has become part of the organization’s bookstore in the Department of State. Over the past nine years, June has transformed the Art Corner into the leading profit center for AAFSW’s annual Art & Book Fair, through painstaking research, curative efforts and design work.

Following the 2016 AAFSW Awards Ceremony, Meredith Somers interviewed AAFSW President, AAFSW members and the 2016 AAFSW Awardees on behalf of the Federal News Radio. You can find the interview at http://federalnewsradio.com/workforce/2016/11/foreign-service-awards-show-american-volunteerism-generous-best/.

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide would like to thank our distinguished guests who were present at the 2016 AAFSW Awards Ceremony, especially Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, Under Secretary Kennedy, and the members of the Dorman Family. AAFSW would also like to thank our generous donors, the Regional Bureaus, Susan Frost and the Family Liaison Office, DACOR, Karen Mehring, Debbi Miller, Sherry Barndollar Rock and Susan Frost at the SOSA Committee, our AAFSW President Emerita Patricia Linderman for all her contributions, and our own AAFSW Board and Foreign Born Spouses’ members for their continued support of our annual AAFSW Awards Program.

As the AAFSW President, I would personally like to thank our State Liaison Mette Beecroft, our Program Chair Sheila Switzer, and our AAFSW Office Manager Barbara Reioux for their boundless support and relentless determination to perfection.

Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen

AAFSW President