Dear fellow AAFSW Volunteers and Members,
I would like to wish all your families and you happy holidays and a very happy and prosperous New Year!
With all our membership’s help and support, 2018 was a very successful year for AAFSW: In February, AAFSW was recognized as an Employee Organization of the Department of State. In May, during Foreign Affairs Day, for the first time, besides paying tribute to the Foreign Service Officers fallen abroad, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also honored the family members fallen abroad while at post. In July, for the first time, in addition to all the other AAFSW merit scholarships, I introduced and AAFSW handed out two “Twice Exceptional Scholarships” aimed at Foreign Service students with disabilities who nonetheless exhibit academic excellence. In late summer, Mrs. Susan Pompeo accepted AAFSW’s invitation to be our Honorary President. In October, AAFSW held one of its most successful Art and BookFairs. Finally, in November, our seven AAFSW Awardees were rewarded for exceptional volunteerism and service, including the 2018 SOSA winners. They were honored by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a private meet and greet, while State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert congratulated them as the keynote speaker at the 2018 AAFSW Awards Ceremony, during which our AAFSW Honorary President Susan Pompeo emphasized the eternal value of volunteerism.
In addition to all our international, educational and cultural events held successfully throughout the year, the AAFSW Board of Directors has been working diligently on issues that directly affect our members, such as EFM employment, as well as the recalculation of the educational allowance intended for families with children with disabilities (SNEA). Also, AAFSW has been paying attention to where its evacuation support network may be needed while, for another year, AAFSW and its Family Crisis and Spouses in Transition Committees have discreetly helped several families navigate through challenging transitions.
As we are starting a new year, I would like to thank AAFSW’s current Board of Directors for all their hard work and amazing volunteer spirit throughout 2018 and remind you that the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide exists because of its volunteers’ and members’ support! Please, do not forget to renew your membership always and, where it is possible, please, consider AAFSW as your tax-deductible charity organization. Your support helps AAFSW reward volunteers, offer financial help where it is suddenly needed, and allow for our organization to have two paid part-time employees necessary for the functioning logistics of the AAFSW office and AAFSW BookStore. Consider giving to AAFSW so that AAFSW can give back to you. AAFSW is YOUR Association and YOUR voice.
May 2019 be a productive year for our wonderful volunteer organization, the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide, and for all of us!
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD