Meet the 2018 AAFSW SOSA Winners!

2018 SOSA Winners, Photo Courtesy of AAFSW President, Dr. Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen.



Dr. Abigail Hankin-Wei training the first class of Emergency Medicine Specialized Physicians in Mozambique.

2018 SOSA Winner for Bureau of African Affairs, Dr. Abigail Hankin-Wei:
Dr. Abigail Hankin-Wei s a Foreign Service spouse and an emergency physician trained at the University of Pennsylvania. She is associated with Emory University in Atlanta. Dr. Hankin-Wei is recognized for her outstanding efforts to change the future of emergency care in Mozambique. She has partnered with a local medical school to start an emergency medicine residency program and is training the very first class of emergency medicine specialized physicians in the entire country. When she departs post, she will leave behind the first six newly-minted emergency medicine physicians in Mozambique, all trained by her and the American emergency medicine physicians who volunteer their time to support the project. Because this specialty has been brought to Mozambique, in ten years’ time these doctors will have saved countless lives and will be engaged in training the next generation of emergency medicine physicians.





Nicola Hil, at an event organized by the Consulate’s “Women in Society” group in Guangzhou.

2018 SOSA winner for the Bureau of East and Pacific Affairs (EAP), Nicola Hil:
Nicola Hil graduated summa cum laude from the University of California, San Diego in 2009 with a degree in Political Science, International Relations and a minor in French Literature. As a Foreign Service spouse, she moved with her husband to their first Foreign Service post in Guangzhou, China in June 2016. Nicola Hill is recognized for making invaluable contributions to Mission Guangzhou’s efforts to promote women’s and gender issues through public outreach events. Nicola took on the task of managing and improving the Consulate’s “Women in Society” group responsible for putting on these events. Working carefully in a sensitive environment, she organized 14 events, during which attendees were given a safe space to learn about and discuss issues affecting women in the United States and the world. Nicola worked with U.S. Consulate Guangzhou’s Political and Public Affairs sections to strengthen coordination on these issues, leading the development of a strategic plan, chairing meetings, delegating responsibilities, and creating a record of best practices that will serve the Consulate well even after her departure.


Matt A. Ellsworth giving a presentation in Nicosia.

2018 SOSA Winner for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR), Matt A. Ellsworth:
Matt A. Ellsworth is a Foreign Service Officer. He has served in Abu Dhabi, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Baghdad, Phnom Penh, Peshawar, Kinshasa, and Nicosia, in addition to 3 domestic assignments in DC. He has a Master’s in Spanish from Brigham Young University. An avid genealogist throughout his career, Matt has done field research around the globe. Matt is recognized for his extraordinary genealogical research in Cyprus, compiling a database of Cypriots named in published and online sources, collecting an impressive library of published village histories and other resources, and providing this data to Cypriot citizens in a not-for-profit Facebook page, with plans to contribute the database to a major Cypriot university. Matt has created a valuable gift that will endure and serve the Cypriot people for generations to come, not only in Cyprus but in the large Cypriot diaspora. His work is likely to serve as the seed and basis for an era of increased interest, activity, and access for Cypriots seeking their ancestry.


Jessica R. McInerney at the library of Colegio Americano in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

2018 SOSA Winner for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere (WHA), Jessica R. McInerney:
Jessica has worked with children throughout her 16 years as a Foreign Service spouse. She has previously lived in Dublin, Santo Domingo, and Cape Town. Jessica McInerney is recognized for building a library from scratch at a local bilingual school, helping raise over $6,000 for the purchase of new books, and creating a community of school parents and administrators who now understand the value of reading and a strong library program. Additionally, Jessica formed a corps of volunteers whom she trained to continue expanding and improving the library long after Jessica and her family’s departure post. Jessica has contributed in a big way to make things better for current and future students in Ciudad Juarez, and her efforts will have a long and lasting benefit to the community she lived in.

Yolanda Macias-Cottrell