On October 5, 2023, AFSA held its annual Awards Ceremony at the Department of State in the Dean Acheson Auditorium. The American Foreign Service Association honored multiple foreign service officers with a variety of titled awards. The awards displayed a wide range of accomplishments by the awardees who each gave their wonderful remarks. All 11 of the awards were presented by representatives of the founders, which provided detailed context as to the significance of the awardees’ efforts.
Ambassador John F. Tefft received the association’s 2023 Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in recognition of his outstanding Foreign Service career, his lifelong commitment to public service, and his exemplary contributions to U.S. foreign policy. He gave an incredibly emotional speech highlighting the unrelenting support given by his loving wife. AAFSW appreciated the regards given to the families and spouses of the foreign service officers as we deeply understand their significance in this field and how much their encouragement assists diplomats and FSOs throughout their careers.
The AFSA Constructive Dissent awards including the William R. Rivkin award, W. Averell Harriman award, and Christian Herter Award, all highlighted just how empowering it can be to stand up for what you believe in even if it deviates from the standard. All three of the winners spoke out and fought for a valuable change that needed to be implemented. Mark Evans had the goal to transform the State Department approach to supporting Foreign Service dependents with disabilities. Alexander Douglas not only courageously saved his colleagues life, but then went on to openly question the Embassy’s security procedures and response and tirelessly worked to find actionable solutions. Christophe Triplett shone a light on the unfair disparities faced by locally employed staff in same-sex marriages.
All of the AFSA winners contributed magnificent efforts that improved our foreign service not only for our FSOs, but also for their families and locally employed staff that work closely alongside them. Paige Puntso, Felix Peng, Marina Grayson, Katie Leis, Erin Cederlind, Ken Kero-Mentz, and David Burnstein were all commemorated and each one had their own unique story that proved just how deserving they are of their award.
A reception in the Delegate Room followed the ceremony, where the AFSA board of directors greeted the winners, their friends, and their families. AAFSW President Celine C. Erickson and Jose Dorce, SOSA co-chair, met AFSA President Thomas Yadgerdy for a pleasant conversation and made plans to join forces in 2024 on many advocacy fronts.
For more information about each award please go here: https://afsa.org/awards-and-honors
We at AAFSW are so grateful to have been able to attend the ceremony and congratulate all of the awardees for their empowering work.
By Valerie Antezana