2017 AAFSW SOSA Ceremony – Tuesday, November 7, 2017 Department of State

On Tuesday, November 7, 2017, AAFSW held its 27th annual AAFSW SOSA program, which was presented by Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, AAFSW President, at the Benjamin Franklin Reception Room in the Department of State. The ceremony highlighted the exceptional volunteer work of nine remarkable individuals and can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VPllXcR8_s, or below: 

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 five winners for the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) from the respective geographical bureaus. DACOR recognized the winner of the 2017 Tragen Award, AAFSW and the Champions of Career Enhancement for EFMs Employment Committee recognized the recipient of the 2017 CCE–EFM Award, and AAFSW recognized the winner of the 2017 Lesley Dorman Award. Further, AAFSW recognized one of its longtime members for the AAFSW Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide and AAFSW President were grateful to welcome Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources Constance Dierman who spoke at the ceremony and honored the awardees. Deputy Assistant Secretary Dierman oversees issues relating to family members, overseas employment, shared services, retirement, and grievances.

The SOSA winners received a certificate of gratitude for their inspiring contributions signed by the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, 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 were presented by Yolanda Macias-Cottrell, AAFSW SOSA Chair and they include: 1) Grace Anne Turner, from Post: Dakar, Senegal (at the AFRICAN Bureau) who improved patient intake and treatment of dehydration at the House of Hope primary care clinic, 2) Craig Houston, from Post: Chiang Mai, Thailand (at the EAST ASIA and PACIFIC Bureau) who created a multi-faceted website (http:// www.chiangmaiair.org/) to promote awareness of severe air quality issues during northern Thailand’s annual agricultural burning seasons, 3) Alesia Krupenikava, from Post: Kyiv, Ukraine (at the EUROPE and EURASIA Bureau) who recruited more than 150 girls from all over Ukraine to participate in the Technovation Challenge program in Ukraine, 4) Lisa Hess, from Post: Colombo, Sri Lanka (SOUTH and CENTRAL ASIA Bureau) who created the U.S. Embassy Colombo community outreach team that provides great benefits to Sri Lanka while also providing the U.S. mission community an opportunity for service, 5) Maritza Wilson, from Post: Managua, Nicaragua (WESTERN HEMISPHERE and the AMERICAS Bureau) who, as a native medical practitioner, participated in home visits and home surveys of Amos Foundacion to better understand the needs of the barrio and train members of the community in basic home health care ensuring the sustainability of her efforts.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Following the presentation of the 2017 Secretary Of State Awards, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources Constance Dierman and DACOR President Jim Benson, along with Irving Tragen, 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, Kelly Bembry Midura, has advocated for Foreign Service family members for nearly three decades. Kelly is also a prolific writer, publishing articles on Foreign Service topics in AAFSW’s Global Link, and AFSA’s Foreign Service Journal, and editing the first in AAFSW’s Foreign Service Companion book series, “Moving Your Household Without Losing Your Mind.” Kelly’s long-running personal blog, Well, That Was Different, addresses Foreign Service and expatriate topics and enjoys a substantial following in the community.

DAS Dierman along with AAFSW President Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen and AAFSW EFM Employment Committee representative Bob Castro presented the 2017 CCE-EFM Award to Judy Ikels. 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. Judy Ikels joined the Office of Employee Relations (ER) in November of 2004 and became Division Chief in 2009. She supervises a team of 13 professionals, developing policy and managing programs covering a wide range including telework and workplace flexibility, leave and travel, Workers’ Compensation, and Student Loan Repayment, among other policy and program areas. Her 27 years of service to the Department include two years as Community Liaison Office Coordinator in Rio de Janeiro, four years as a trainer at the Foreign Service Institute, nine years with the Family Liaison Office, three as Employment Program Coordinator, and six years as FLO’s Deputy Director. She was part of the FLO team that developed the Family Member Appointment, piloted the Global Employment Initiative, lobbied for the “PIT Buy-Back,” and piloted the first Overseas Employment Planning Workshop.

DAS Constance Dierman, AAFSW State Liaison Dr. Mette Beecroft, and AAFSW President Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen presented the 2017 Lesley Dorman Award to Anna Dworken. 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. Anna Dworken joined AAFSW in 1981 and was active in setting up the Foreign-Born Spouses Network in 1982 and 1983, before going overseas for most of the next 20 years. Between postings she helped with the Book Fair and in 1999-2000 she was on the Board of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation. She joined the AAFSW Board in 2008 as Assistant Treasurer and she is still on the AAFSW Finance Committee. She became active with the Book Room and the BookFair in 2008 too, and soon after she became interested in clearing a huge backlog of old and rare books. She currently enjoys managing Collector’s Corner in the AAFSW Bookstore and for the annual AAFSW Art and BookFair.

Last but certainly not least, on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, AAFSW recognized Jewell Fenzi, a longtime AAFSW member and honored her with the AAFSW Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is very timely as the Volunteers of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide and the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training are about to launch a joint effort to record the history of the American Foreign Service Spouses. Jewell Fenzi has been a pioneer of this effort by recording the stories of over 170 American Diplomatic Spouses and initiating the Foreign Service Spouse Oral History Project in 1986. Most of these stories are now in the Library of Congress and a summary of these appears in Jewell Fenzi’s book: “Married to the Foreign Service,” which was published in 1994. For the presentation of this special award, AAFSW President Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen requested the help of AAFSW Program Chair and Foreign Born Spouse State Liaison Sheila Switzer who is one of the spouses interviewed for this Project and whose interview is in the Library of Congress. The AAFSW Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Ms. Jewell Fenzi included the picture of the cover of Jewell’s book and it read: “The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide present the AAFSW Lifetime Achievement Award to Jewell Fenzi for being a pioneer in recording the Oral History of the American Diplomatic Spouse. Tuesday, November 7, 2017.”

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide would like to thank all our distinguished guests who were present at the 2017 AAFSW Awards Ceremony, especially Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources Constance Dierman. AAFSW would also like to thank our generous donors, the Regional Bureaus, FLO Director Susan Frost and the Family Liaison Office, DACOR, the SOSA Committee, the AAFSW Board, the AAFSW members and volunteers, and the AAFSW 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 AAFSW State Liaison Mette Beecroft, our AAFSW Program Chair Sheila Switzer, our AAFSW SOSA Chair Yolanda Macias-Cottrell, and our AAFSW Office Manager Barbara Reioux for their boundless support and relentless determination to perfection.

Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD
AAFSW President


Photographs by Mark Stewart, U.S. Department of State, and AAFSW.