Another Successful AAFSW Awards Ceremony

AAFSW annual awards ceremony celebrated SOSA, Tragen, CCE-EFM, and Dorman winners. (Photo courtesy of Mark Stewart, DOS Photographer.)

The annual AAFSW volunteer awards program took place Tuesday, November, 10, 2015 in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. The ceremony was a success highlighting the volunteer work of nine outstanding individuals. It recognized winners of the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA), the Tragen Award, the Champions of Career Enhancement for EFMs (CCE-EFM) Award, and the Lesley Dorman Award.

We were privileged to have Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom speak and present the awards. Even though Secretary Kerry was traveling, he sent recorded remarks where he congratulated the 2015 winners. In addition, AAFSW debuted a video commemorating the 25th anniversary of the SOSA awards. You can view it on our website.

This year’s SOSA recipients included one DEA Special Agent and five family members. We were honored to have five recipients in attendance for the awards program. The winners included Juliette Marsham McClure (AF), Shannon Argetsinger (EAP), Ernesto Luna (EUR), Karen Forsyth (NEA), Sunny Stimmler (SCA), and Carolynn Poulsen (WHA). Summaries of the winners’ volunteer efforts were highlighted in the November 2015 edition of Global Link.

Following the presentation of the SOSA awards, Deputy Secretary Higginbottom and DACOR president Raymond Ewing presented the Tragen Award. This award is funded by an annual gift from Mr. Tragen and is administered by DACOR. It recognizes 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 recipient was Sheila Switzer, who was recognized for her tireless commitment to provide support to and advocate for foreign born spouses who are in Washington, DC. Through the positive impact she has had and continues to have on the lives of countless EFMs in need of support and assistance, Sheila embodies the values of the Ele Tragen award.

This year, AAFSW presented the CCE-EFM Award to Stephanie Arnold. The award honors someone who has made exceptional efforts to promote employment and career development for Foreign Service family members. As US Embassy Dublin’s Human Resources Offices, Stephanie promoted the career enhancement of EFMs at post. She was successful in the revision of a bilateral work agreement where the Irish government now grants blanket work permits to all US diplomatic EFMs upon arrival in country. She also spent two years advocating for additional EPAP positions.

The Dorman Award was presented by Lesley Dorman to Patricia Linderman. Patricia served as AAFSW President from 2011-2015. During her tenure, Patricia presided over the volunteer team that produced the EFM Business Owners Group, EFM Business Directory, AAFSW classified ads, numerous social media groups, happy hours for newcomers, the Foreign Service Hub project, and books such as “Moving Your Household without Losing Your Mind.”
I am sad to say this is my last year as SOSA Chair. I will be moving to Hanoi in Summer 2016. Please be on the lookout for messages from Karen Mehring, the new SOSA Chair. I’ve enjoyed participating in this awards program and can’t wait to see who is nominated in 2016.

Lara L. Center
SOSA Chair

In photo, from left to right – Shannon Argetsinger (SOSA), Patricia Linderman (Dorman Award), Ernesto Luna (SOSA), Sunny Stimmler (SOSA), Deputy Secretary Higginbottom, Stephanie Arnold (CCE-EFM award), Sheila Switzer (Tragen Award), Juliette Marsham McClure (SOSA) and Karen Forsyth (SOSA). Not pictured: Carolynn Poulsen (SOSA)