Sheila M. Switzer
AAFSW Program Chair
AAFSW Foreign Born Spouses State Liaison
Founder and Chair of the AAFSW Family Crisis Fund
Sheila Switzer is an international leader and diplomatic liaison who has dedicated her life to promoting cross-cultural understanding, appreciation, and respect between people around the world. Through her work and outreach, she has continuously created opportunities for local communities to interact with the diplomatic community and has helped enrich the lives of those in need globally.
Ms. Switzer was a diplomatic spouse for 28+ years, during which time she and her family served in posts throughout Europe and Latin America. In all countries to which she and her family were assigned, she brought together the diplomatic, national, and international communities, in an effort to develop a substantial volunteer force, and infused them with passion to provide the support needed at different institutions. By organizing successful fundraising events, she was able to help improve the lives of several hundred people, ranging from poor orphans’ education needs to supporting residences for elderly citizens; providing help for mental health care institutions; assisting young single mothers, homeless people, and abused children; and sponsoring a young girl to compete in the Special Olympics.
Ms. Switzer has been the Program Chair of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) since 1998, and she is the Foreign-Born Spouses State Liaison (Spouses of American Foreign Service Officers, State Department). In these positions she has been a liaison between various embassies and has organized impactful programs that are of international, political, cultural and local interest: most notably the Ambassador Speaker Series and cultural events at the U.S. Department of State, embassies, Library of Congress, museums, and other special venues. She established and chairs the Family Crisis Fund
She is also an active member and Embassy Liaison of The Hospitality and Information Service (THIS) of Washington, DC; Board member and Embassy Liaison for the Welcome To Washington International Club (W2W); Board member of Washington International Piano Arts Council (WIPAC); Embassy Liaison for the National Association of Arts and Letters (NSAL), promoting and unifying nations through the arts; Past President of the Pan American Round Table of Washington (PAN) and organizer of their international programs.
Sheila has received many honors for her accomplishments:
2019: AAFSW Lifetime Achievement Award for her remarkable contributions and volunteer service
2018: AAFSW Volunteer Award for supporting and leading AAFSW Women in Transition
2018: AAFSW Award for Exceptional Leadership to the Foreign-Born Spouses
2015: Tragen Award from DACOR for having done the most to advance the interests of American Foreign Service family members
2009: Lesley Dorman Award for sustained outstanding service to AAFSW
1992: Avis Bohlen Award for improving relations between the American and foreign communities in Madrid, Spain
1992: “Special Recognition” from The Association of the Diplomatic World, in Madrid, Spain, to honor Sheila Switzer for “Dignified Work to Protect and Assist Children, the Disabled, and the Elderly”
1991: The Secretary of State’s Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA)
Ms. Switzer earned a Diploma in Etiquette from the Institut Francais D‘Personalite, a Diploma from the International Congress of Protocol in Oviedo, Spain; as well as various diplomas from the Protocol School of Washington, Protocol and Diplomacy International which were completed in Ottawa, Canada, Washington D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. She also has a diploma from Protocol and Diplomacy International in Military and Business Protocol and Consular Relations, all of which she has applied in educating diplomats and business leaders around the world.
She has also taught Etiquette and Protocol courses at FSI for several years and at Georgetown University, and other Institutions and other Institutions in the U.S., Europe and Latin America.