On March 18th, 2023, AAFSW members and long-time friends of Barbara met at Sheila Switzer’s beautiful home for a farewell dinner party. A Saint Patty’s joyful ambiance, a bright sunny late afternoon, and smiles and laughs made this dinner the most enjoyable.
Sheila Switzer opened her heart and shared some of the most significant moments of her friendship and professional relationship with Barbara over fifteen years. First, Sheila thanked her for the support and goodwill she had shown to her over the years: “the sweet memories of working with a coworker like you will be hard to forget,” concluding: “Someone once asked me what the best of AAFSW was. I said one of them was: Barbara, she was the Pilar (of AAFSW) on where we all leaned over”.
Over these fifteen years, Barbara served at the discretion of the governing board of AAFSW under the direct supervision of the President. In addition, two past Presidents, Patricia Linderman (2011-2015) and Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen (2016-2020), one Emeritus President, Lara Center (2015-2016 & 2020-2022), and AAFSW’s President, Celine C. Erickson, joined AAFSW’s members to celebrate Barbara’s fantastic work as Office Manager and contributions to AAFSW.
Patricia shared: “When I was the volunteer President, there were many stressful moments, like getting bumped from the Benjamin Franklin Room for our Awards Ceremony at the last minute, and plenty more! Through it all, Barbara remained calm and cheerful, providing steady support for me and everyone else. I know I wouldn’t have made it through without her! Thanks to her rock-solid and reliable service always backing us up, the whole AAFSW team was able to help make Foreign Service life easier and better for people in DC and around the world.”
Joanna shared: “Barbara was the breath of the AAFSW Organization. Barbara worked tirelessly for years and connected all the links of AAFSW together with her at the center. She is a very giving person both with her time and her skills. Barbara has been very helpful to all the AAFSW Presidents letting us know of the past history and the current situation of the association every time a new President took over every 2 or 4 years. Barbara is very good with deadlines and letting all of us at the AAFSW Board know what needs to be done and by which deadline. We are certainly going to miss her, but Barbara surely earned a most magnificent retirement!”
Lara shared: “One never quite realizes how much Barbara did for AAFSW until you answer questions for a new committee chair. The default answer is Barbara does that. Barbara was a vital member of AAFSW, and she will be missed. I wish her the best in her retirement.”
As President since October 2022 and Spouses in Crisis and Transition Chair since 2018, I can recall Barbara was always dependable, supportive, encouraging, and honest under so many circumstances, on weekends, late evenings, or whenever, for all AAFSW governing board and members. Barbara always did whatever it took to make it work. Barbara has been the heart and soul of AAFSW. So as it is time for Barbara, John, and their family to move on and scale new heights, AAFSW members and friends wish them the best of luck and continued success!