2019 Tragen, CCE-EFM and Dorman Award Winners

Melissa Brayer-Hess, Tragen Award

Melissa Brayer-Hess is the recipient of the 2019 Tragen award that honors a spouse, family member, domestic partner or member of household, who has effectively advocated and promoted rights, programs, services and benefits for Foreign Service families in the tradition of the AAFSW and its members, as did the late Mrs. Tragen.  Melissa was selected for this award for spearheading three long-term initiatives:  the AAFSW website, the start-up of the Livelines e-mail group, and the Realities of Foreign Service Life book series.  Over 15 years after their creation these initiatives continue to positively impact Foreign Service family members and employees every single day. 

A Foreign Service spouse for 22 years, Melissa accompanied her husband on assignments to Nigeria, Russia, Algeria, Egypt, and Ukraine.  In 1998, she created Foreign Service Lifelines, the first website for Foreign Service spouses.  The website hosted Livelines, the first “meeting place in cyberspace” for Foreign Service families worldwide.  As the site continued to grow, it was eventually taken over by AAFSW in 1999 and became the organization’s official website.

Melissa is also co-author of the book, The Expert Expatriate: Your Guide to Successful Relocation Abroad.  The book was written with Patricia Linderman, a fellow Foreign Service spouse.  The two co-authors met on-line and wrote the book by corresponding on-line while living in two different countries.  Melissa also developed the idea of creating a book providing a look at Foreign Service life as seen from the inside, written by those who have experienced it.  This resulted in Melissa and Patricia co-editing two other books, Realities of Foreign Service Life, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.  Plans for a Volume 3 are now underway. 

Melissa holds a Master’s degree in Education and has taught English in colleges, universities, and language schools in Europe, Africa, and the United States.

Daniel Alvarez, Shannon Bland, Dan Kehoe, CCE-EFM Award

Expanded Professional Associate (EPAP) Dan Kehoe, Eligible Family Member (EFM) Coordinator Shannon Bland, and Global Employment Advisor (GEA) Daniel Alvarez at U.S. Embassy Mexico City have gone above and beyond their job descriptions and routine daily activities to promote the cause of employment and career development for Foreign Service family members in Mission Mexico. 

Wholeheartedly dedicated to advancing the professional development of our EFMs, Dan, Shannon, and Daniel have created a multi-faceted EFM employment program that streamlines an inherently cumbersome recruitment process, educates EFMs on hiring preferences and authorities, and promotes professional growth and work options at post.

Dan, Shannon, and Daniel work hand-in-hand to educate our many community members on varying hiring preferences and authorities.  Additionally, they devote considerable time and effort to develop SOPs and present on this information—for example, the Non-competitive Eligibility (NCE) that EFMs are entitled to upon return to Washington, D.C.

The three also work closely with our HR LES team to better understand, provide guidance, and identify resources to advise EFMs desiring to work on the local economy.  The three diligently track, update and consult on the continually changing process, allowing EFMs to pursue rich and diverse opportunities outside of the Embassy, whether at local schools or by teleworking at their residence.

Streamlined procedures, innovative and expanded trainings, and comprehensive guidance on new or changing policies and regulations has benefitted more than 200 EFMs throughout the Mission, as well as our R/HRO at Consulate Ciudad Juarez and the management officers and CLOs at our nine Consulates.  The three conducted 13 presentations to 60+ EFMs and individually consulted with more than 90 EFMs in the last year. In the ICASS Survey, one comment summarizes the results of the dedication of the EFM employment team: “The EFM Coordinator Team provides excellent service to the Embassy community regarding EFM employment opportunities. Thank you!”

It is for their innovative and remarkable efforts to adopt best practices and innovations to greatly expand and elevate individual job opportunities for and long-term career enhancement of Foreign Service family members of U.S. Embassy Mexico City that we nominate the three for the Champions of Career Enhancement (CCE) Award.

Sherry Barndollar Rock, Dorman Award

Sherry Barndollar Rock served alongside her husband, Bud, in a foreign service career that spanned nearly 30 years.  Both at home and abroad, Sherry’s commitment to volunteering has been among her highest priorities. Through her efforts, the foreign service community has benefitted enormously, as have the local communities in which she and her family have lived.   

During their very first posting in Israel, Sherry volunteered her management and fundraising expertise to the community, aiding schools for handicapped youth and developing sports programs for children of diverse cultural backgrounds. Support to future generations through scholarship has been a key theme in Sherry’s community service.  She led the education and scholarship programs at DACOR, later serving as DACOR’s Executive Director.  Scholarship continues to be central to the DACOR mission, a legacy of Sherry’s continuous support of the foreign service community.   

It was logical, and indeed fortunate, therefore, that Sherry would then take the lead in managing the AAFSW scholarship program.  The program is a strong and key feature of the AAFSW mission and accomplishments. 

Sherry has provided these same skills and commitment to her community in Virginia, as President of the Arlington Rotary Educational Foundation, where scholarship is among the most important areas of contribution.