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Honor an Overseas Volunteer: Nominate Someone for the Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA)! Deadline: April 29

Do you know an exceptional overseas volunteer who has made a positive and lasting impact in their host country, supported morale and well-being within the Embassy or Consulate community, or helped others in an emergency? 

Please consider recognizing their work and inspiring others by submitting a nomination for this prestigious award administered by AAFSW!

Volunteer opportunities are a key to good morale and a sense of purpose at many overseas missions. And volunteers within the U.S. foreign affairs community consistently demonstrate remarkable achievements, even during a few short years at post. 

Examples from the 2021 SOSA award winners include assisting victims of human trafficking in the Middle East; leading a complete turnaround of an international school’s curriculum, finances, hiring and security; creating cultural outreach programs in China; providing support to autistic children and their families; and creating English-language programs for local staff at two consulates. 

Learn more about the program and previous winners here: https://www.aafsw.org/sosa/ 

SOSA nominees can be any USG direct-hire employees under Chief of Mission (COM) authority, their spouses and family members over the age of 18, or their members of household (MOH). The SOSA Award is given for volunteer activities performed abroad while the nominee was posted to a U.S. Mission or on Involuntary Separate Maintenance Allowance (ISMA) status.

The award honors remarkable service to the mission community, outstanding activities directed towards the host country, or exceptional service in emergency situations. Factors considered in the selection process include: scope and reach of activities, sustainability, ingenuity, and leadership. 

The SOSA Awards are administered by AAFSW, and recipients, if qualified, are chosen from each of the six regional bureaus by a panel of AAFSW, GCLO and regional bureau representatives.  Winners receive a cash award of $2500 and a certificate signed by the Secretary of State. Travel to Washington, DC for the November ceremony (if held in person at the State Department) will be paid for by regional bureaus.

How to Submit a Nomination

All members of the Foreign Affairs community are encouraged to present nominations.

Nomination season for the SOSA Awards opened this year with ALDAC cable 22 STATE 9450, released on February 1, and nominations are due by April 29.

Nominations for all awards should not exceed three pages double-spaced and must include the following information:  the nominee’s name and position or relationship to the direct-hire employee; the nominee’s e-mail address; the nominator’s name and relationship to nominee; and a justification for the nomination, including specific actions and qualities that fulfill the award criteria.

Send nominations (as a Word document) for the SOSA Awards to office@aafsw.org.  

You may also contact your CLO or Management Officer for additional information. Please also feel free to contact AAFSW with any questions by e-mail at office@aafsw.org.

Your nominations help recognize the vital importance and value of volunteer work in the foreign affairs community. Furthermore, highlighting these achievements inspires others to pursue projects that create positive change, advance person-to-person diplomacy, and bring more satisfaction and meaning to their time at post. Thank you for supporting these awards!

Patricia Linderman, AAFSW SOSA Chair 2020-2022