The last two years, since I was elected President of AAFSW in the summer of 2016, have really gone by fast!
I was truly honored to meet, make friends, work side by side with all of you, and represent AAFSW while trying to realize its mission and the wishes of the AAFSW members, whom I consider the backbone of the Department of State. I feel we have accomplished a great deal over the last two years. We listened closely to our membership and the American Foreign Service community and we took charge in helping on issues that were really important to AAFSW and the rest of the Foreign Service community. I sincerely believe that AAFSW, its Executive Board, its Committees and Chairs, as well as its volunteers have delivered!
Last summer (2017), AAFSW put a lot of effort into, worked hard on, and gave input regarding the Eligible Family Member employment concerns and the reorganization of the Extended Professional Associates Program (EPAP). We also listened carefully to the needs of our American Foreign Service families with children with disabilities and the struggles these families go through. In response, I introduced the “Twice Exceptional” Scholarship to the AAFSW Executive Board. The AAFSW Board approved my idea and for the first time, on July 13, 2018, AAFSW granted two such scholarships to children who exhibit academic excellence while having an Individualized Education Program (IEP) set in place. Also, earlier in 2018, AAFSW applied and was granted the status of a Department of State Employee Organization. In addition to all these volunteers efforts, AAFSW continues with its monthly wonderful international cultural events, the annual AAFSW Art and BookFair (October 5-15, 2018), and the annual AAFSW SOSA Ceremony which rewards exceptional volunteerism (November 15, 2018).
With this opportunity, and since the AAFSW elections concluded on June 15, 2018, I would like to thank all the AAFSW volunteers and especially the departing AAFSW Executive Board members for working with me so diligently for the benefit of AAFSW and its members during the last two years, as well as welcome the AAFSW volunteers who were elected to serve as the new AAFSW Executive Board members for the next two years. I would also like to thank all the AAFSW volunteers who served as Chairs of the many AAFSW Committees for their work during the last two years and welcome the volunteers who have already offered to take over as Chairs of these varied AAFSW Committees for the next two years. But most of all, I would like to thank all AAFSW volunteers for their service to AAFSW, their generosity, and their friendship.
Finally, I am really thankful to all of you for having trusted me to lead AAFSW during the last two years, since the summer of 2016, and even more thankful that you recently gave me your vote of confidence to continue heading AAFSW for the next two years, starting on July 1, 2018.
I will try my best to listen, accomplish, and honor your trust and expectations.
Joanna Athanasopoulos Owen, PhD