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Letter from the President, December 2022

@Celine C. Erickson, President, AAFSW

“December is a simple wish that brings spectacular moments,” and a time to reflect on 2022 and look forward to 2023. This is also the perfect moment to celebrate our valued partnerships, and to recognize the accomplishments of our foreign affairs community members at home and abroad.

AAFSW’s activities and programs returned to in-person events after a long three-year interruption. In November 2022, AAFSW was proud to host the 32nd Annual Secretary of State Awards Ceremony for Outstanding Volunteering Abroad, in the sumptuous Benjamin Franklin Room. Deputy Secretary of State Brian P. McKeon commended the volunteer work of Justin Wimpey in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Denis Rajic, Michele Rajic Tang, Vicki Daniel, and Ellin R. Lobb in Shanghai, China, Meredith Wiedemer in Chisinau, Moldova, Debra Stock in Doha, Qatar, J. Carlos Valles in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Secretary of State Blinken complimented them, virtually, for complementing the official diplomacy led by our Foreign Service officers. Alison W. Davis received the Tragen Award. Stephanie Anderson and Lauren Steed, the CCE-EFM Award and our former president, Dr. Joanna Anthanapoulos, the Dorman Award, “grateful and truly humbled to be the 2022 AAFSW Dorman Award Recipient.”

Sheila Switzer conveyed impactful current affairs and cultural programs. His Excellency Marek Magierowski Polish Ambassador to the United States, gave AAFSW’s members a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the current and historic events occurring in Ukraine “Poland’s Perspectives on Security in Europe” at the Dean Acheson Auditorium. His Excellency Indonesia Ambassador Rosan Perkasa Roeslani shared the wonderful culture of Bali, the Island of the Gods. Over four hundred guests enjoyed the folklore, the music, the dances, and a fashion show at the Dean Acheson Auditorium. The first woman ever to run her country’s Embassy in Washington, DC, Ambassador Hanene Tajouri Bessassi of the Republic of Tunisia hosted a special Tunisian cultural evening. She recognized the continued U.S. partnership and international support for democracy, which she described as the “unique destiny of the Tunisian people.”  Finally, Ms. Kahazar Ibrahim, the wife of His Excellency Ambassador Khazar Ibrahim, hosted a cultural event at the Residence of Azerbaijan, in Washington, DC, to mark the 30th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s diplomatic relations with the United States, as a “relationship built on trust and friendship”.

AAFSW’s Programs – Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide

Anne Kauzlarich, Pat Kennedy and the mighty AAFSW’s volunteers joined forces to deliver the 60th edition of the Art and BookFair (A&BF) in October, at the National Museum of American Diplomacy (NMAD). Other milestones included Anne’s tenth year as our Art and BookFair Chair and Martine Nakpil’s fifth year and last year as our BookFair Manager. But this is a teamwork. We could not do it without our resolute volunteers. All books and artwork come from the generous donations of our foreign affairs community. According to Anne, these donations have generated sales of over one million dollars over the years, to support AAFSW’s charities and efforts for our community through grants and awards throughout the year.

Art and BookFair – Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (aafsw.org)

Part of the oral history program, Lara Center and Melissa Hess delivered FS Clips with interviews of Foreign Service family members around the world, with the Una Chapman Cox Foundation’s generous support for the last year. FS Clips capture actualized stories of Foreign Service life as told by those who live it, featuring discussions and insights on topics specific to Foreign Service life, including Foreign Born Spouses, Third Culture Kids, EFM Careers, LGBQTI, and Singles in the Foreign Service.

FS Clips – Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (aafsw.org)

The Foreign-Born Spouses groups with Jenny Kocher and Victoria Osla were thrilled to meet virtually and in person for many rewarding activities.

The strong partnership among AAFSW, the U.S. foreign affairs personnel and family members, since its creation in 1960, embodies the spirit of President Kennedy and Secretary of State David Dean Rusk’s commitments to social justice, diversity, and equity. AAFSW’s foreign affairs community members conduct this important mission every day, doing whatever it takes to make it work. 

Dear members, collaborating with you has been an absolute joy. With so many great people and so many opportunities, we look forward to developing more team, peer, and partner synergies within our community at home and abroad in 2023. 

Thank you for your partnership and for accompanying AAFSW in this journey.

Happy Holidays!