Congratulations to AAFSW!

Foreign-Born Spouses and Family/Spouses in Transition
Become AAFSW Standing Committees
with Voting AAFSW Board Member Chairs!

Dear AAFSW Members and Volunteers,

I would like to thank all of you who voted during the Summer 2020 AAFSW Election and all of you who supported the following two issues that appeared on the Summer 2020 AAFSW Ballot: 1) Should the Foreign-Born Spouses Committee Chair carry a vote and be able to vote during the AAFSW Board meetings? And, 2) Should the Families/Spouses in Transition Committee Chair carry a vote and be able to vote during the AAFSW Board meetings?

In an effort to make AAFSW even more inclusive and incorporate the opinion of even more AAFSW Volunteers during the AAFSW Board meetings, as the 2016-2020 AAFSW President, I presented these two questions to the AAFSW Board twice over the last four years, but the AAFSW Board did not reach a conclusive decision. In June 2020, the AAFSW Executive Board received two written requests from the AAFSW Foreign Born Spouses Committee Co-Chairs and the AAFSW Families/Spouses in Transition Committee Chair respectively, to place these two issues on the Summer 2020 AAFSW Election Ballot. With unanimous approval of the 2018-2020 AAFSW Executive Board Members, both questions were placed on the 2020 Summer AAFSW Election Ballot under paragraphs B1 and B2 for the consideration and vote of the whole AAFSW Membership.

After all the electronic and paper ballots were received and tabulated by July 31, 2020, I am very excited to let you know that both these two issues received an overwhelming YES with over 80% of our AAFSW membership who voted during July 2020, voting YES on those two questions. Given that over 64% of the Foreign-Born Spouses participating in our AAFSW FBS events are current AAFSW members, and, approximately 20% of the current AAFSW members are Foreign-Born Spouses, this is a great step forward for AAFSW to be even more inclusive and, among other issues, address the specific issues that only Foreign-Born Spouses in the American diplomatic community experience. Also, given that since the last AAFSW Election in 2018, the AAFSW Families/Spouses in Transition Committee has confidentially helped over 35 American Foreign Affairs spouses and families in transition (some of whom received monetary grant assistance through the AAFSW Family Crisis Fund), these election results constitute a very positive outcome for AAFSW to be able to lobby for changes of the current regulations affecting American diplomatic families and Spouses in Transition.

With these results in mind, as of July 31, 2020, AAFSW has 11 Standing Committees with voting Board Member Chairs (as compared to 7 Standing Committees that existed in 2016: Housing, Forum, SOSA, Art and BookFair, Programs, Public Relations and Publicity, Membership). With my initiative, during 2016 to 2020, AAFSW created the Fun For Funds Standing Committee, gave voting power to the pre-existing Scholarships Committee Chair, and with the recent election, gave voting power to the Foreign-Born Spouses Committee Co-Chairs as well as the Families/Spouses in Transition Committee Chair.

Congratulations to AAFSW and my thanks and sincere gratitude to all the AAFSW members for your support on these two issues! AAFSW is growing bigger, stronger, better, and more inclusive!

Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD
AAFSW President Emerita

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