2023-2025 AFSA Governing Board

Thomas Yazdgerdi, President

A member of the Senior Foreign Service, Tom Yazdgerdi served from 2019 to 2023 as the AFSA State VP and is proud of the many wins that AFSA has gotten for our members. Before that, he was special envoy for Holocaust issues in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the Department of State.

Mr. Yazdgerdi has served as director of the Office of South Central European Affairs, political counselor at U.S. Embassy Kabul, head of U.S. Consulate Kirkuk, and deputy political counselor for Iran affairs at U.S. Embassy Baghdad. He also served as deputy chief of mission and political-economic chief at U.S. Embassy Pristina during the run-up to and aftermath of Kosovo independence.

Before joining the Foreign Service in 1991, Mr. Yazdgerdi worked on Capitol Hill. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University and a master’s degree in Central European history, security studies, and American diplomatic history from The Fletcher School at Tufts University.


Sue Saarnio, Secretary

Sue Saarnio retired from the Foreign Service in 2021 after serving as consul general in Tijuana. A career economic officer, she worked at U.S. embassies in Mexico City, Panama, and Ottawa, and at U.S. Consulate Jerusalem.

She served as principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources and deputy assistant secretary for Mexico, Canada, and regional economic policy in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. In the Economic Bureau she served as deputy special representative for commercial and business affairs and special adviser for conflict diamonds.

Ms. Saarnio has served twice before as a State representative on the AFSA Governing Board.

Prior to government service, she worked as a journalist in Montana and Minnesota. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., and she also spent a year at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, through a study abroad program.

She has two grown children and lives in Falls Church, Va., with her Mexican dog, Daisy.


John O’Keefe, Treasurer

Ambassador (ret.) John O’Keefe served for 32 years in the Foreign Service, beginning in Moscow as a general services officer. He joined the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute as a Global Fellow in 2019.

On retirement from the Foreign Service in 2007, he headed the Open World Leadership Center, a legislative branch agency, for 10 years, then served for two years as counselor to the board of trustees. He expanded the center’s programs from Russia and Ukraine to all countries of the former Soviet Union, the Balkans, Türkiye, and Mongolia.

As ambassador to Kyrgyzstan from 2000 to 2003, he negotiated the treaty allowing coalition forces to establish a base there to support operations in Afghanistan. From 2003 to 2004, he headed the Office of Career Development and from 2004 to 2006 was deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Human Resources, serving as acting Director General of the Foreign Service.

Amb. O’Keefe has received the Distinguished Honor Award, the Replogle Award for Management Improvement, and the Presidential Meritorious Service Award, as well as several Superior Honor Awards and Meritorious Honor Awards. The American University of Central Asia awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. He is married to Monica O’Keefe, a retired public diplomacy officer. This is his second term as AFSA treasurer.


Hui Jun Tina Wong, State Vice President

Tina Wong is a State Department economic officer who brings more than 13 years of State Department experience leading DEIA initiatives, deepening data transparency, and building allies to champion institutional reforms.

She most recently led Western Balkans energy, infrastructure, sanctions, and regional economic integration issues in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs’ Office of South Central Europe Affairs. Previously, she advanced U.S. national security through nonproliferation policy, export controls, sanctions, and international cooperation in EUR’s Office of Policy and Regional Affairs.

Ms. Wong brings to AFSA her experience advising U.S. government partners and leveling the playing field for American companies on infrastructure, telecommunications, agricultural, and defense sectors in emerging markets.

She is also a mentor on diversity and inclusion efforts across the State Department and interagency to increase underrepresented groups in international affairs.

Her overseas tours included Beijing and Mexico City. Her previous domestic assignments included economic adviser, public diplomacy, and policy roles in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the Bureau of International Information Programs, and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

Ms. Wong is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish. She received her master’s degree from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University. She served as a State representative to the AFSA Governing Board from 2021 to 2023.


Randy Chester, USAID Vice President

A proud graduate of the University of California at Davis, a former Peace Corps volunteer to Senegal, and a long-term union member, Randy Chester brings 30 years of development experience, nearly 20 years with USAID, and 25 years of experience as a union member, including five years as a teamster in San Francisco, California.

As a USAID Foreign Service officer, he has served in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Pakistan (four tours), and Madagascar. Joining USAID as an agriculture officer, Mr. Chester has led diverse technical teams working on food security, governance and trade, energy regulation, humanitarian assistance, natural resource management, and education.

Prior to USAID, he worked for an environmental think tank and a nonprofit supporting small farmers in the California Central Valley.

He holds two master’s degrees from UC Davis, in agriculture economics and international agriculture development. In 2021, he was named the co-winner of the AFSA USAID Post Representative of the Year award.

He is a strong advocate for unions having a loud and active voice, promoting workers’ rights, and advocating for inclusive and constructive dialogue.

Mr. Chester is half of a USAID tandem. Together, they have visited more than 70 countries on five continents and one day hope to settle down in an Airstream trailer.


Joshua Burke, FCS Vice President

Joshua Burke has served FCS for more than 11 years in roles in the domestic field, Ankara, Bucharest, Lagos, and at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

He has developed strategies that have assisted three-star generals in combating the ISIL terrorist group, countered malign influence in Romania, supported three Secretary of State visits and two bilateral POTUS meetings, and helped to create or retain nearly one million American jobs though advocacy and investment promotion efforts.

While at Commerce HQ, Mr. Burke led initiatives that will save the U.S. government more than $5 million annually and developed a detailed operations assessment for the office of talent management. Along with his team, he has received numerous awards, including the Department of Commerce Silver Medal and the LE Staff of the Year award.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Mr. Burke worked as a strategy and operations consultant and, earlier, served as a Peace Corps volunteer.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in management from Iowa State, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a certificate in mastering trade policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He holds Lean Six Sigma Green Belt and Global Business Professional certifications. He is proficient in Romanian, Turkish, and Spanish.

Mr. Burke has started several charitable enterprises and served on the boards of nonprofit organizations. He is an avid triathlete and yoga teacher, and dabbles in real estate investing and the Native American flute. He and his wife, Anca, have been married for 17 years and have two daughters and a Vizsla named Cooper.


Lisa Ahramjian, FAS Vice President

Lisa Ahramjian joined the AFSA Governing Board as FAS VP in 2021 and was reelected in 2023. A key focus of her tenure has been on renegotiating the FAS-AFSA collective bargaining agreement, which was last substantially renegotiated almost three decades ago. In addition, she has worked to significantly improve human resources support, safeguard the future of FAS’ Foreign Service, and improve morale and retention.

Ms. Ahramjian is proud to be a member of FAS’ small but mighty Foreign Service, with only approximately 150 FSOs worldwide. She has been a fierce advocate for her constituents and is honored to continue serving as vice president.

She has served as agricultural attaché in Ukraine (with regional coverage of Moldova), Burma/Myanmar, and the Dominican Republic (with regional coverage of Haiti and Jamaica). In each market, she sought to gain or maintain access for U.S. agricultural products, promote them to regional consumers in coordination with U.S. industry groups, provide market intelligence on local conditions, and help increase food security through a variety of capacity building programs.

Since joining the federal workforce in 2006, Ms. Ahramjian has also worked at USDA’s National Organic Program, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the National Institutes of Health.

Originally from Wilmington, Del., she received a B.S. in animal science from the University of Delaware and an M.S. in biotechnology from Georgetown University. She currently resides in Washington, D.C.


John K. Naland, Retiree Vice President

John Naland’s 29-year Foreign Service career included service in Colombia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico (as principal officer in Matamoros), and Iraq (as leader of the provincial reconstruction team in Basra). Washington assignments included the Secretary’s Policy Planning Staff, the White House Situation Room, and the Bureau of Human Resources (as director of the Office of Retirement).

Mr. Naland was AFSA State vice president from 1999 to 2001 and served two terms as AFSA president, from 2001 to 2003 and from 2007 to 2009. He retired from the Foreign Service in 2015 and is in his fourth term as AFSA Retiree VP. He is also president of the Foreign Service Youth Foundation and coordinator of the Foreign Affairs Retirees of Northern Virginia.

Mr. Naland is co-author of the fourth edition of Career Diplomacy: Life and Work in the U.S. Foreign Service (Georgetown University Press, 2021). A former U.S. Army cavalry officer who served in West Germany during the Cold War, he is a graduate of the Army War College. Born in Kansas, he grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Tulane University. He is married and has two daughters.


Gregory Floyd, State Representative

Greg Floyd has worked with the State Department since 2005, serving in Nassau (political officer), Shanghai (consular officer), Bridgetown (deputy pol/econ/commercial chief), New Delhi (American Citizen Services chief and regional ACS coordinator), Vienna (consul general), Kabul (consul general), Doha (AAU consul general), and Vancouver (consular chief).

He received the State Department’s Heroism Award and the Mary A. Ryan Award for Public Service as a result of his work to protect U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and Qatar after the closure of U.S. Embassy Kabul in 2021.

Before his diplomatic career, he represented public entities in labor, employment, and constitutional law matters. He was also a lecturer at Fresno State University, teaching courses related to labor and employment law.

During his tenure on the AFSA Governing Board, he looks forward to working cooperatively with AFSA members and the State Department to help facilitate positive change, particularly with regard to the protection and development of specialists. Mr. Floyd is the first board member to serve as full-time State representative for FS specialists, as the position was created in 2023.


Lynette Behnke, State Representative

Lynette Behnke joined the Foreign Service in May 2006. She has been head of the unit for the Republic of Korea and Mongolia in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs since July 2022. From August 2020 to June 2022, she served as U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s deputy political counselor. In this role, she managed the section’s evacuation from Ukraine and the process of rebuilding the team as the embassy resumed in-country operations.

Prior to Kyiv, she worked on financial sanctions and counterterrorist financing at U.S. Embassy London. Her overseas tours also include Hungary and Haiti.

Ms. Behnke has served as a Transatlantic Diplomatic Fellow at the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Europe director at the National Security Council, and NATO desk officer.

Originally from California, she holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from Tulane University in New Orleans. She is married with two children.


Kimberly Harrington, State Representative

Kim Harrington is currently director for Israel and Palestinian affairs at the National Security Council. Previously, she was acting deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Energy Resources. In her most recent overseas posting, she served as political and economic counselor at U.S. Embassy Kampala. She was deputy economic counselor in Bogotá from 2014 to 2018 and political-military affairs officer in Jerusalem from 2011 to 2014.

Since joining the Foreign Service in 2002, Ms. Harrington has also served in overseas assignments in Manila, Cairo, and Tripoli. At the department, she worked as a staff assistant in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. On detail at the Pentagon during the Arab Spring, she worked as an adviser in the Joint Staff’s Office of Strategic Plans and Policy (J-5) for the Middle East.

She received a bachelor’s degree in international politics from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and studied abroad at the American University in Cairo. She has a master’s degree in national resource strategy from National Defense University. Ms. Harrington and her husband, a USAID Foreign Service officer, have two young children. She was a State representative on the 2021-2023 AFSA Governing Board.


David Josar, State Representative

David Josar joined the State Department in 2010 as a public diplomacy officer but in 2023 changed skill codes and is now a consular officer.

He served as vice consul in Angola and Chile; as information officer in Phnom Penh; as fraud prevention manager in Hyderabad; and is currently assigned to children’s issues in Washington, D.C., where he works on resolving cases of international parental child abduction. His onward assignment will be as deputy consular chief in Myanmar.

He was on the ground in Kabul as part of the department’s evacuation efforts in Afghanistan.

Mr. Josar is married and has a seventh grade daughter who was born in South Africa when he was assigned to Angola. His wife, who worked at post as an eligible family member (EFM) in Chile and India, is currently pursuing a master’s degree in landscape architecture.

Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Josar was a newspaper reporter for 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He was born in Allentown, Pa.


C. Logan Wheeler, State Representative

C. Logan Wheeler joins the Governing Board in 2023 in his fifteenth year as a Foreign Service officer. A political-coned officer, Mr. Wheeler currently serves as an assessor with the department’s Board of Examiners.

His prior tours include U.S. Embassy Bogotá as chief of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Policy Division, U.S. Embassy Asunción as acting political/economic chief, Bolivia desk officer, Operations Center watch officer, U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam as a political pfficer, and U.S. Embassy Moscow as a consular officer.

Mr. Wheeler holds a master’s degree in sequential art from the Savannah College of Art and Design, a master’s degree in public policy from Tec de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico, and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Russian from Rhodes College in his home state of Tennessee. His wife, Molly, is an assistant professor with St. Catherine’s University in Saint Paul, Minn. They have two children.


Whitney Wiedeman, State Representative

Whitney Wiedeman has been a Foreign Service officer since 2007. He has served in Ciudad Juárez, Dusseldorf, Bogotá, in Washington, D.C. (in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement’s Western Hemisphere Programs, INL/WHP), Guatemala, Kabul, and most recently Oslo.

Prior to joining the State Department, he worked as a prosecutor and defense attorney in Texas. He is married, and the father of three children born on three continents.


Christopher Saenger, USAID Representative

Chris Saenger currently leads USAID’s Ukraine unit in the Europe and Eurasia Bureau. Since joining USAID in 2009, he has served in Ecuador, Iraq, Washington, D.C. (as Jordan desk officer), USAID’s Middle East regional platform covering Tunisia and Libya, and, most recently, as program office director in Colombia.

He has also served as co-chair of the Program Officer Field Advisory Council and is a volunteer facilitator in the RISE program.

Mr. Saenger grew up in Delaware but has been a proud District of Columbia resident since 2003. He holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in international development from American University. His wife, Caroline Adams Saenger, is a landscape painter. They have two children.


Jay Carreiro, Alternate FCS Representative

Jay Carreiro is a career Foreign Service officer and a 22-year veteran of the Commerce Department. He served as AFSA vice president from 2019 to 2022 and is currently the commercial consul in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Mr. Carreiro first joined the Commercial Service in 2009, serving as special assistant to the deputy assistant secretary for international operations. Other assignments include Rio de Janeiro, where he was responsible for promoting U.S. commercial interests in a variety of areas including energy, safety and security, architecture, construction and engineering, naval defense, aviation, and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

After leaving Brazil, he served as director for the Business Liaison Office and special adviser to the U.S. executive director at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, D.C.

Originally from Massachusetts, he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Rhode Island College, and a master of public administration and juris doctor degrees from Rutgers University. He is married with one child, and when in the U.S., lives in Alexandria, Virginia.


Zeke Spears, Alternate FAS Representative

Zeke Spears joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2016. He worked in Washington, D.C., on bilateral and multilateral trade issues prior to departing in 2019 for his first overseas assignment, in Tokyo. He is currently in language training for his next assignment, in Seoul.

Prior to joining the Foreign Agricultural Service, Mr. Spears worked with agribusiness, industry groups, and farmers as an agriculture and environmental policy consultant based in Washington, D.C.

Originally from Atlanta, Ga., he holds degrees from Georgia Southern University and American University. Mr. Spears is married to a Department of State Foreign Service officer.


Joseph Ragole, APHIS Representative

Joseph M. Ragole is the area director for South Asia for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, posted in New Delhi.

He began his Foreign Service career resolving trade issues in Brussels at the U.S. Mission to the European Union. He subsequently served in Santo Domingo, where he helped coordinate the initial response to an outbreak of African swine fever.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Ragole worked on domestic regulatory programs with APHIS, including export certification and emergency programs such as fruit fly outbreak eradication. Mr. Ragole also served as an agriculture specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Mr. Ragole holds a bachelor’s degree in ecology and German from the University of Colorado at Boulder. An avid motorcyclist and enthusiast of all things mechanical, he is joined in New Delhi by his wife and their son.


Steven L. Herman, USAGM Representative

Steven L. Herman is the Voice of America’s chief national correspondent and former White House bureau chief.

The veteran correspondent has been a member of the Foreign Service since 2007 when he was named VOA’s South Asia bureau chief, based in New Delhi. Subsequent to his India posting, Mr. Herman was Northeast Asia bureau chief, based in Seoul, and then Southeast Asia bureau chief in Bangkok. He returned stateside in 2016 to cover diplomacy at the State Department and traveled extensively with then–Secretary of State John Kerry.

Mr. Herman spent 16 years living in Tokyo, working in media, before joining VOA as a staff correspondent. He is also a former news reporter for the Associated Press and began his career in radio and television news in Las Vegas.

He is a former president of both the Japan Foreign Correspondents’ Club and the Seoul Foreign Correspondents’ Club and an adjunct lecturer of journalism at the University of Richmond. This will be his second consecutive term as USAGM representative on the AFSA Governing Board.


Mary Daly, Retiree Representative

Mary Daly is a senior adviser in the Department of State’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs where she works on Holocaust restitution issues. She was a political officer in the Foreign Service for 23 years, serving as political counselor, speechwriter, policy planner, and legislative liaison, among other assignments, before retiring early to care for a family member.

Since retiring, she has served as chief of staff for the coordinator for Afghan Relocation Efforts, directed the Franklin Fellow program, and served as a senior inspector in the Office of the Inspector General and as editor-in-chief of the department’s “Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom”, in addition to her work in EUR.

Ms. Daly served as AFSA’s director of advocacy and speechwriting from July 2017 to March 2018. In that capacity, she built relationships for AFSA with House and Senate Appropriations and Authorizations Committee members and staff, and helped launch the Friends of the Foreign Service caucus.

This will be her third consecutive term on the AFSA Governing Board.


Edward G. Stafford, Retiree Representative

Ed Stafford is a retired FSO now living in southern New Jersey after serving for 27 years in the Foreign Service, mostly in political-military affairs assignments.

Since retiring in November 2016, Mr. Stafford has busied himself with various volunteer work near his new hometown of Brigantine, N.J., including teaching English as a second language to recently arrived immigrants, preparing adolescents for sacraments at his church, and leading several theological discussion groups. He looks forward to serving AFSA members in particular by being responsive to the interests and concerns of the FS retiree community.

Mr. Stafford’s wife, Nancy, is a retired FS human resources officer. They have three adult sons and five grandchildren.