Like a Bridge

State VP Voice


We in the Foreign Service understand the need for a strong union and professional association to support and defend us and the important work we do for the American people. I am honored and excited to serve all of you as your AFSA State Vice President over the coming two years.

Having already served four years on AFSA’s Governing Board and as AFSA post representative in Berlin (for which I received AFSA’s Post Representative of the Year award in 2009), I know well the important role AFSA plays—not only as the “voice of the Foreign Service” to the world beyond Foggy Bottom, but also as your ally and advocate. Together we will weather the challenges we face.

We all know change is hard, but we in the Foreign Service are perhaps uniquely capable of managing uncertainty and thriving not in spite of change, but because of it. After all, we constantly pick up our lives, our families and our professional expectations and haul them off to new corners of the world, with new colleagues, new challenges and new things to learn.

And at each stop, we find success, advancing American interests as no other organization can or does. Sure, problems arise, setbacks occur and unforeseen threats present themselves. But we carry on in the time-honored traditions of our Service. It’s who we are and what we do.

Our esprit de corps holds us together, inspires us to help one another in adjusting to the ever-changing realities of new homes and new jobs, new places and new people. Now is a moment when that spirit of togetherness must hold to support this Service and this State Department— and AFSA is poised to promote and protect our entire Foreign Service family.

There are reasons for hope: the draconian cuts in foreign affairs budgets initially proposed by some have faced significant headwinds on Capitol Hill. Members of Congress from both parties have made clear their belief that a robust diplomatic and development capability is as critical to U.S. national security as a strong military deterrent.

All indications suggest that Congress plans to back these views with a budget that continues funding for the department at appropriate levels. AFSA continues to engage actively with our allies in Congress, to press for passage of appropriations that reflect the vital work of the Foreign Service and respect members of the Foreign Service as professionals serving the nation in often difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Change is coming. Rest assured, we will push back where needed, influence decisions where we can and do our best to keep you apprised of what lies ahead. Wherever possible, AFSA will seek to be the bridge that leads the Foreign Service through these troubled waters and onto the path of a future every bit as distinguished as our past. Setbacks may occur, but with your support for AFSA, we will remain strong.

And I will do everything in my power to honor the trust you have placed in me by representing and encouraging that strength through the challenges ahead. This is my pledge.

Kenneth Kero-Mentz is the Department of State vice president of the American Foreign Service Association.