AFSA Staff

For a list of AFSA Governing Board Members, click here. Note that AFSA does not accept unsolicited marketing "cold calls" or emails. Please click on the titles below for that individual's name and contact information.

Executive Office


Thomas Yazdgerdi

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.

He can be reached at

Executive Director

Ásgeir Sigfússon

Ásgeir Sigfússon is AFSA’s Executive Director. In that role, he oversees the association’s accounting and finance, IT, infrastructure, human resources, and executive functions. He is also the primary liaison between AFSA staff and the elected Governing Board.

Ásgeir has been with AFSA since 2003 and has extensive experience within the association, particularly its communications, outreach and online/social media efforts. Originally from Iceland, he lives in Old Town Alexandria.

He can be reached at

Executive Assistant

Maria Benincasa

Maria Benincasa is the Executive Assistant to the President. In this role, she supports Tom Yazdgerdi in his scheduling needs, prepares materials for the Executive Committee and Governing Board minutes, and manages the executive office’s budget. Before joining the staff at AFSA, Maria was an intern for the American Academy of Diplomacy in Spring 2022, where she worked closely with Ambassador Ronald Neumann and the Academy’s distinguished members. She graduated from James Madison University with a BA in International Affairs in May 2022. Maria has two cats named Scar and Gibbs.

She can be reached at


Communications and Outreach

Director of Communications and Outreach

Nikki Gamer

Nikki Gamer is AFSA’s director of communications and outreach, for which she is responsible for developing public relations strategies and engaging with various external audiences in support of AFSA's mission and goals.

Nikki comes to AFSA with more than 15 years of experience in public relations and journalism, most recently as senior public affairs manager and writer for the global aid agency Catholic Relief Services (CRS). A journalist by trade, Nikki is a passionate storyteller who once produced a daily news and talk show on Baltimore's NPR-affiliate station, WYPR-FM. She is an adjunct professor in communications at Towson University and a volunteer mentor with the Baltimore-based nonprofit Adelante Latina. Nikki holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from Brown University and a master's in journalism from Northwestern University.

Initially from Danvers, Massachusetts, she lives in Baltimore with her husband Marc and their two dogs.

She can be reached at

Online Communications Manager

Jeff Lau

Jeff Lau is a key player in shaping and managing every aspect of AFSA’s presence online. He is responsible for designing graphics for and updating the content of the AFSA website as well as for enhancing and managing all functionality of the website himself or through relationships with third parties. Additionally, he handles online publication of each new issue of The Foreign Service Journal, AFSA’s flagship publication.

Jeff is regularly enlisted to design a wide variety of high-quality graphical content to boost AFSA’s visibility and brand recognition, including banners, ads, posters, handouts, and even museum installations. He also regularly creates graphics for publication through AFSA’s social media outlets, which he manages in concert with his colleagues in the Communications, Outreach, and Publications departments of AFSA.

Jeff received a B.A. in Philosophy from Vanderbilt University in May of 2000. When he grew tired of waiting tables, he began studying graphic and web design and web development at Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts, from which he graduated in 2010. Jeff has been a full-time employee of AFSA since 2013.

He can be reached at

Manager, Outreach and Internal Communications

Allan Saunders

Starting as an intern with the FSJ in 2013, Allan Saunders has had a hand in most of the organization’s external programs for the better part of a decade. After graduation from American University’s School of International Service (BA’14, MA’17), Allan joined the communications team at AFSA and has since managed the organization’s educational outreach programming, internal communications, media relations, and external messaging. In between episodes of the latest true crime documentary, Allan dabbles in mead-making and perfecting the perfect cocktail. He currently resides in Washington, DC with his wife, Marlo, and best mate, Froggy the two-legged cat.

He can be reached at

Communications and Education Coordinator

Erin Oliver

After graduating from Brigham Young University in 2021, Erin joined AFSA as the Membership Operations Coordinator and in 2023 joined the communications team as the Communications and Education Coordinator. She holds a B.A in Political Science with a concentration in international strategy and diplomacy. She previously worked as a research assistant studying political systems and religion in the Middle East, as well as interning for Atlas Corps working on developing their international student fellowship program. Originally from Seattle, Washington, Erin currently resides in Washington, DC and likes to spend her time playing tennis and trying new restaurants around DC.

She can be reached at

Manager, Outreach and Strategic Communications

Nadja Ruzica

As the Strategic Communications and Outreach manager at AFSA, Nadja Ruzica leads the external communications and outreach initiatives for the organization, including leading the daily administration of AFSA's social media. Nadja came to AFSA from Special Olympics International, where, as the Director of Inclusive Health Program, she managed all aspects of the inclusive health program, from strategy development to project management to communications and outreach. Prior to joining Special Olympics International, Ms. Ruzica worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development on several high-profile, post-conflict portfolios, most recently as the Director of Technical Services in the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs. Ms. Ruzica holds a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a master's degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

She can be reached at


Member Engagement and Programs

Director, Programs and Member Engagement

Christine Miele

Originally from Pasadena, California, Ms. Miele has over 20 years’ experience working in program development and management across nonprofit, business and government sectors. Previous experience includes working in public affairs for Planned Parenthood, serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer (in Zambia), and leading product design and project management for an internet start-up.

As an EFM, Christine has been a part of Embassy communities in Maputo, Mozambique and San Jose, Costa Rica. While in Mozambique she worked to establish an organization focused on improving literacy and worked alongside Peace Corps and USAID to establish 50 community libraries in rural communities throughout the country. She began working for AFSA in 2017.

Christine has a B.A. in Government from Smith College and an M.A. in Public Policy from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. She has two children.

She can be reached at

Coordinator, Member Recruitment and Benefits

Perri Green

Perri Green has been working at AFSA since 1999. She began as AFSA’s National High School Essay Contest Coordinator until she took over the AFSA Awards and Memorial Wall ceremonies in 2010. For the last four years she has acted as AFSA’s Membership Recruitment and Benefits Coordinator. This position allows her to meet and talk to AFSA members as she is updating and recruiting them for AFSA membership.

Perri lives in McLean, VA with her husband, Terry Green. They have two adult married daughters who live in Minneapolis and Los Angeles. Their oldest daughter has their two male grandchildren.

She can be reached at

Counselor for Retirees

Dolores Brown

Hailing from a small town in central New Jersey, Dolores studied Russian and art history at Barnard College before earning a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs, with a focus on Soviet studies. Before joining the Foreign Service, she was the Program Director at the International Center in New York, where she assisted foreign newcomers to acclimate to life in the Big Apple, and Associate Director of Admissions at her alma mater, Barnard, responsible for transfer and foreign student admissions.

Joining the Foreign Service as a management officer in 1985, her career has been varied and includes service as director of the Watch in the State Department Operations Center, deputy chief of mission in Estonia, management counselor in Cairo, and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Brown also was the first State Department officer seconded to the FBI shortly after 9/11 to establish a comprehensive watch list of individuals of concern for the Terrorist Screening Center. She is the recipient of four Superior Honor Awards and the FBI Director’s Award from Robert Mueller.

After retiring in 2018, Dolores became AFSA’s Counselor for Retirees, offering her guidance to many AFSA members, helping them access information about their retirement benefits. Brown believes that retired practitioners of diplomacy are a unique brain trust for the United States, and their skill set can easily be parlayed into a second profession. With that in mind, she pioneered AFSA’s Next Stage program series, which complements AFSA’s Federal Benefit series and which showcases how retired FS personnel successfully transition to post-FS careers and vocations.

Dolores met her late husband, Graham Prentice Brown, a journalist for Agence France-Presse, at her first posting while ushering a CODEL in apartheid South Africa. She has two sons, Richard and William.

She can be reached at

Member Events and Marketing Coordinator

Hannah Chapman

Hannah is a Northern Virginia native who graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Health Science. During her time there she worked passionately on community nutrition projects to increase food security across the greater Richmond area, published pieces for a variety of online platforms, and served as the social media manager for 2 dietitians across the country. In 2017 she spent a semester abroad at Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia, where her interest in foreign affairs and life abroad was sparked. After graduation Hannah taught English at an elementary school in Busan, South Korea for two and a half years amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Hannah joined AFSA in June of 2022 and looks forward to navigating the new world of in-person events all over again.

She can be reached at

Membership Operations Coordinator

Mouna Koubaa

An accomplished foreign affairs connoisseur, Mouna Koubaa boasts an impressive 18-year career dedicated to citizen services, crisis management, and immigration. Her expertise has been honed across diverse global settings, from Tunisia and France to the UAE and the U.S. Mouna's exceptional skills have been recognized with prestigious State Department Awards.

Mouna's current role as the Membership Operations Coordinator at AFSA highlights her attention to detail and commitment to excellence. She oversees membership data operations and ensures data integrity.

Mouna brings her extensive experience as a locally employed (LE) staff member to AFSA. A Tunisian-Dutch dual national, Mouna speaks English, French, Dutch and Arabic, with additional knowledge of Spanish.

She can be reached at

Program Coordinator


The Foreign Service Journal and FS Books

Director of Publications / Editor

Shawn Dorman

A former State Department Foreign Service political officer, Shawn Dorman is editor in chief of The Foreign Service Journal and publications director for the American Foreign Service Association. She also manages AFSA’s book publishing activities for the AFSA imprint, Foreign Service Books. She was Editor and Project Manager for the second (2003 & 2005) and third (2011) editions of AFSA’s bestselling Inside a U.S. Embassy books, which introduce readers to life and work in the Foreign Service.

During eight years in the Foreign Service, Shawn served in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Jakarta, Indonesia; and the State Department Operations Center in Washington, D.C.

She started working for the State Department as an intern with the then-Soviet Desk at the end of college. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she worked in Embassy Moscow’s political section for a year and in the consular section of Consulate General St. Petersburg for four months.

While in graduate school, Shawn taught English at a university in Changchun, China, for a semester. She speaks Bahasa Indonesia and Russian (both rusty). Shawn has an M.A. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a B.A. from Cornell University. She grew up on a farm outside Baltimore and now lives in Stevenson, Maryland, with her husband (also named Shawn) and an unruly rescue dog from Kuwait. The Shawns’ young adult kids fly back to the nest often for refueling.

She can be reached at

Senior Editor

Susan Maitra

Raised in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Susan studied English and history at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Drawn to wordsmithing from a young age, she got her start in the field as an editorial assistant for McGraw-Hill in New York City.

In 1983, Susan relocated to India, where she lived for 16 years with her husband and their two children. There, she worked as an editorial consultant to book publishers, providing professional editing for what was then a nascent English-language trade publishing industry in New Delhi.

On returning to the U.S., Susan worked briefly as a technical writer in Northern Virginia before she was named associate editor at the FSJ. In the two decades since, she has become managing editor and then senior editor, a guiding force behind the magazine’s vision and content, commissioning and then editing articles, working directly with authors to shape drafts into print-ready pieces.

She’s also played critical roles in major AFSA Publications team projects, including her work on Foreign Service Books (AFSA’s imprint) as an editor for the Inside a U.S. Embassy books and the AFSA history book. She was a lead creator for the FSJ centennial exhibit shown at the National Museum of American Diplomacy for three months in 2018.

Susan has served as production manager, copyeditor, proofreader and substantive editor all at the same time, keeping up with the relentless pace of a monthly magazine. She now works remotely from her home in Wisconsin.

She can be reached at

Managing Editor

Kathryn Owens

Kathryn Owens began her career in 2007 as an assistant editor in the acquisitions department at Potomac Books, then a Virginia-based publisher specializing in nonfiction, notably international affairs (and AFSA’s partner on distribution for the Inside a U.S. Embassy book).

After two years, she was transferred to the production department and found her niche. In 2013 the company was acquired by University of Nebraska Press where she was invited on as a project editor. Leaving the East Coast for the Midwest, she settled in Lincoln, Nebraska, to continue her work shepherding book projects through the production process.

In late 2014, Kathryn returned to the Washington, D.C., area as editorial and production coordinator at Georgetown University Press. There, she broadened her publishing experience through deeper exposure to design and production and honed her editorial craft. Her contributions to The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, were acknowledged by the University of Chicago Press in 2017.

In 2019 Kathryn joined AFSA as the managing editor for The Foreign Service Journal. In this role, she oversees production as each edition travels through the various stages, from final Word documents to the bound magazine. She is responsible for creating the annual production schedule and ensuring that the print and digital editions arrive on time and are of high quality.

She holds a B.A. in English from The George Washington University, where she worked in the Writing Center, and an M.A. in humanities and an editing certificate from the University of Chicago.

Kathryn enjoys time with her dog, Bark Twain, and seeing live bluegrass.

She can be reached at

Deputy Editor

Donna Gorman

Donna Scaramastra Gorman “joined” the State Department as a Foreign Service spouse in 1998. She and her spouse, a recently retired Diplomatic Security special agent, served together in Moscow (three times), Yerevan, Almaty, Beijing, and Amman, and spent a year apart while he served in Baghdad, adding four kids to the mix along the way.

Donna has a B.A. in English and Russian from the University of California, Irvine, and an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Southern California, where she also worked as a Russian language instructor.

She has held a variety of jobs at embassies overseas, including consular associate (Moscow), community liaison officer (Yerevan), human rights reporting assistant (Beijing), and public affairs officer (Amman) before becoming a freelance writer and communications consultant.

Her writing has been published in Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, and many other outlets, and over the years she’s been a frequent contributor to The Foreign Service Journal as well. She is also the author of the book Am I Going to Starve to Death?: A Survival Guide for the Foreign Service Spouse (2015).

Donna served as associate editor for The Foreign Service Journal from 2017 to 2019 and rejoined the team in 2023. She was then promoted to Deputy Editor in 2024. She covers U.S. foreign policy developments and events affecting the foreign affairs community for the Talking Points section in each issue, compiles obituaries for the In Memory section, and assists the team with proofing the magazine.

She can be reached at

Publications Coordinator

Hannah Harari

Hannah obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana, in communication studies with a minor in international development studies. Prior to joining the publications team at AFSA, Hannah handled events, fundraising and communications for Habitat for Humanity of Missoula.

In 2021 she completed an M.A. in peace and conflict management at the University of Haifa in Haifa, Israel as a Fulbright M.A. Fellow. During her fellowship, she explored the role of communication in social justice across the Israeli NGO sector with a focus on sustainable, person-to-person approaches to conflict transformation and peacebuilding. She also thoroughly enjoyed exploring the geography and cultural landscapes of Northern Israel alongside a diverse friend-network of classmates and residents.

Hannah grew up primarily in the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Idaho, and Montana) and loves traveling, hiking, trail running and any food involving tahini. She is also a certified Wilderness First Responder.

As publications coordinator at AFSA and The Foreign Service Journal, Hannah assists the editing team with FSJ proofing, production, and distribution. She also manages subscriptions and FSJ inventory, liaises with contributing authors and promotes FSJ content online and at events.

She can be reached at

Business Development Mgr - Ads/Circulation

Molly Long

Molly joined AFSA as part of the publications team in August 2019. In her role as business development and advertising and circulation manager, she oversees all aspects of advertising: selling, collecting, and submitting ad content for each edition of the FSJ as well as digital offerings that include the website, the daily Media Digest, the Retiree Directory and other eNewsletters for both AFSA and the FSJ. Her circulation role includes growing magazine subscriptions by finding and implementing outreach opportunities with various groups and events.

Molly has worked in advertising and publishing most of her career. She entered the association world in 2002 as manager of a monthly publication and digital ad opportunities. Before that, she sold ads for numerous other publications, mostly in the travel and leisure category.

Molly lives with her husband and two pets in Virginia. Her husband owns a venture capital and business consulting firm. They have two daughters: The oldest is an editor analyst for a top financial and investment advisory company and the youngest is completing her graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling.

Originally from the suburbs of New York, Molly earned a degree from Ohio Wesleyan University. She enjoys hot yoga, gardening and traveling with her family.

She can be reached at


Advocacy and Professional Policy Issues

Director of Advocacy

Kim Sullivan

Kimberly (Kim) Sullivan has served as the director of congressional advocacy for the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) since April 2018. She is the manager of advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill at a time when AFSA members have listed advocacy as their top membership benefit. Kim has worked to build bipartisan congressional support for the Foreign Service as the first line of defense and a demonstration of U.S. global leadership.

As the director of congressional advocacy, she determines timelines, degrees of engagement, and fitting arguments for AFSA’s advocacy efforts on the Hill. Kim typically interacts with key authorizers and appropriators for foreign affairs agencies who are central to maintaining operations for the Foreign Service and providing funding for the International Affairs Budget.

In her time at AFSA, Kim has worked with our congressional champions to reject proposed cuts to the International Affairs Budget and reverse the decline in core diplomatic capability funding. In 2021, she oversaw the passage of the Foreign Service Families Act, which extended key military benefit provisions to the Foreign Service, and the first State Department Authorization Act in about two decades.

Prior to her time at AFSA, Kim served in various legislative roles on Capitol Hill. Most recently, she was the legislative director for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Kim is from Sanibel, Florida, where her family operates a small business selling seashells. She is an alumna of the University of Florida and an avid college football fan. Go Gators!

She can be reached at

Director, Professional Policy Issues

Julie Nutter

Julie Nutter is AFSA’s Director of Professional Policy Issues. The Professional Policy Issues (PPI) directorate has as its primary goal to promote the long-term well-being of the Foreign Service corps, including the soundness of the Foreign Service career path, the integrity and effectiveness of tenure and promotion boards, and long-term career development that makes maximum contributions to the efficiency of the Service. PPI conducts membership surveys, organizes Town Halls, hosts career development workshops, assists in producing regular advocacy updates to our members, and provides accurate data on the Foreign Service to media outlets and to AFSA’s strategic partners. Ms. Nutter is a 30-year veteran of the Foreign Service, serving in posts in West Africa, Europe, Iraq (during the Iraq War) and Washington.

She can be reached at

Policy Analyst

Sean O'Gorman

Sean O’Gorman has served as the policy analyst for AFSA within the congressional advocacy and professional policy issues (PPI) teams since October 2021. He uses State Department personnel and workforce-related policy documents, the Foreign Service Act, and previous AFSA products on the Foreign Service workforce to conduct background research for AFSA advocacy and policy responses and communications.

In this role, Sean serves as AFSA’s main point of contact for advocacy initiatives with state and local legislatures as well as with private entities that aim to promote the overall well-being of Foreign Service personnel domestically and abroad. With that, he maintains AFSA’s data library metrics which includes updating statistics on Foreign Service workforce, career, recruitment, and retention. Additionally, Sean assists the directors of advocacy and PPI with a variety of different tasks including, but not limited to, congressional outreach and research, membership survey design and distribution, and responding to member inquiries that deal with a multitude of Foreign Service life challenges.

Over the past year, Sean has worked to expand AFSA’s reach to state legislatures across the country and private companies to advocate for Foreign Service life benefits on the local level, ranging from driver’s license renewals/extensions to tax exemptions. Accompanying this, Sean created and continues to oversee state-by-state and company-by-company policy tracking guides, which are useful resources in AFSA’s ongoing local-level and private sector advocacy. He also helped manage the logistics associated with creating and distributing AFSA’s Foreign Service reform priorities and Leadership and Management survey to membership.

Before joining AFSA, Sean held a variety of different legislative and policy focused roles across many forms of government. Some of his past experiences include an internship with the U.S. House of Representatives, energy and trade policy development for the Provincial Government of Québec and promoting safe and sustainable infrastructure at two New York City transportation agencies.

Sean hails from Lake Grove, New York and he is a proud graduate of St. John’s University. As the son of an Irish immigrant and Bronx native, he can be easily found outside of the office either on a golf course or at a baseball game.

He can be reached at


Finance and Administration

Director of Finance

Femi Oshobukola

Femi has been with AFSA for over a decade, overseeing the association’s accounting and finance functions. He supervises the annual audit and budget processes. He possesses extensive management experience in all accounting and finance disciplines and has been recognized for excellence in strategic visioning, sound technical knowledge, financial analysis, forecasting, financial judgments and operational focus. He has developed financial and operational policies and procedures that enhanced business operations. He has also demonstrated success in presenting finance and accounting information in an understandable form for non-finance/accounting associates.

He joined AFSA from the Points of Light Foundation and has 30 years of experience in accounting and finance. He is a graduate of finance from London Guildhall University.

He can be reached at

Director, HR and Operations

Cory Nishi

Cory Nishi is AFSA’s Director of HR and Operations. His responsibilities are Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, Human Resources, Employee Benefits, Technology and Facilities. Cory has been with AFSA since 2004 and has experience with membership, accounting, and information systems. Born and raised in the uncharted suburban wildlands of Oahu, he escaped to the exotic lands far to the East (coast) and currently resides in Arlington, VA.

He can be reached at


Kalpna Srimal

Kalpna handles AFSA’s investment, general and PAC accounting. She also submits various reports for the organization as well as aiding in audit and tax preparation.

She can be reached at

Member Accounts Specialist

Ana Lopez

Ana Lopez has been working at AFSA since 2000. She initially worked as the Office Manager and in the membership department. She is now the Member Accounts Specialist, with a primary responsibility for the association’s accounts payable. Ana is originally from El Salvador but has called the U.S. her home for 40 years.

She can be reached at

IT and Infrastructure Coordinator

Aleksandar “Pav” Pavlovich

Aleksandar “Pav” Pavlovich served nine years in the United States Marine Corps as a Heavy Equipment Operator arising to the rank of Sergeant and serving as Acting Company Gunnery Sergeant at his highest capacity. He had one combat deployment in 2008, attached to the 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion as part of “Team Guardian” providing security for Camps Taqaddum and Habbaniyah in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has served abroad in Japan and South Africa.

Before joining AFSA, he was Director of Operations for the Association of Defense Communities (ADC). In addition to responsibilities of the day-to-day operations of the association, he planned, developed and executed statewide conferences focused on public-private partnerships in support of military infrastructure, growing and retaining local missions, as well as preparation for a potential Base Realignment and Closure round. He was instrumental in pushing the defense communities of California to create the California Defense Communities Alliance, the first statewide military affairs organization created since 2015.

He is a graduate of California State University Sacramento, with a B.A. in Government, focused in International Relations; during which he served as President of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

He can be reached at

Office Coordinator

Therese Thomas

Therese Thomas has been with AFSA since 2018 and serves as the Office Coordinator. She is the first point of contact when entering AFSA and a part of the Finance Department. As part of her duties, she takes care of accounts receivable, creates invoices, and answers calls to help members with membership needs. Additionally, she also takes care of AFSA’s office supply needs to ensure that our office is a comfortable workplace. Before coming to AFSA Therese spent ten years with the DGA/ DLCC as Office Coordinator.

She can be reached at


Office of the General Counsel

General Counsel

Sharon Papp

Sharon L. Papp joined AFSA in 1992, following four years as an associate attorney with a Washington, DC law firm specializing in plaintiff-side employment and EEO law. As General Counsel, Ms. Papp oversees the activities of ten staff members in AFSA's Labor Management Office and provides legal guidance and assistance to AFSA's elected officials and committees (including the Committee for the Legal Defense Fund and the Committee on Election). She also represents AFSA in implementation disputes before the Foreign Service Grievance Board, and negotiability disputes and appeals before the Federal Labor Relations Authority, and Unfair Labor Practices before the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Over the years, she has assisted thousands of members with investigations, proposals for discipline, grievances, and security clearance cases.

Ms. Papp earned a BA in English and Psychology from Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School. She is a member of the District of Columbia and Virginia Bars and the recipient of the Gay and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies' Equity Award, the Society of Federal Labor & Employee Relations Professionals' Lifetime Achievement award, and AFSA's Special Achievement award. Ms. Papp grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where her parents worked for the Arabian American Oil Company.

She can be reached at

Deputy General Counsel

Raeka Safai

Raeka Safai is the Deputy General Counsel (DGC) for AFSA. As DGC, she handles a broad range of matters, to include labor-management relations and collective bargaining with several foreign affairs agencies (State, USAID, FAS, USAGM), complex individual member grievances, investigations, congressional inquiries, discipline and security clearance cases. She also counsel’s AFSA leadership and Board members on policy matters affecting the Foreign Service workforce. Raeka is AFSA’s expert on social media policies, outside activities and the effect of the Hatch Act on Foreign Service employees.

Raeka is a member of the Society of Federal Labor and Employee Relations Professionals and the Women’s Bar Association. She is barred in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Prior to joining AFSA in 2010, Raeka was an associate at a Washington, D.C. firm where she represented Foreign Service employees in administrative, civil and criminal matters. Raeka received her Juris Doctor from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in 2007. She is a first generation Iranian-American and speaks fluent Farsi and French.

She can be reached at

Senior Attorney Advisor

Zlatana Badrich

Zlatana serves as one of the Senior Staff Attorneys in AFSA’s Labor Management Office. Zlatana has been with AFSA since 1998 and for over 17 years served as the Deputy General Counsel, stepping back from that role in order to spend more time with her family, but remaining actively engaged in the heart of AFSA’s labor relations work.

As part of her portfolio, Zlatana assists members on a daily basis with grievances relating to tenure and promotion, low ranking and EER issues, as well as disciplinary matters, security clearance suspensions and revocations. She also provides member assistance during DS and OIG investigations. In her years at AFSA, Zlatana has been on the negotiating teams for the CBAs of the State Department, FAS, APHIS and USAGM constituencies. Zlatana regularly works on the Selection Board Procedural Precepts, Core Precepts, EER Form issues, and the Drugfree Workplace Program, in addition to other policy matters that come up, relying on her subject matter expertise and institutional experience across all the constituencies. Zlatana has also played a key role in numerous Bylaw amendments and Governing Board elections over the course of her career, serving as one of the staff liaisons for the relevant committees on those issues.

Zlatana is a native Washingtonian and graduate of the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.

She can be reached at

Senior Attorney Advisor

Neera Parikh

She can be reached at

Labor Management Counselor

Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan

Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan has served as AFSA’s Labor-Management Counselor (LMC) since November of 2014. She began her career in 1992 as an intern in AFSA’s State Department Labor Management Office and went on to serve as Staff Attorney until 2001, where she focused primarily on supporting collective bargaining at USAID.

As AFSA’s LMC, she assists in developing the Labor-Management office’s positions on a range of policy issues, which, among other things, include pressing for reforms in the State Department’s Assignment Restrictions (AR) program and pushing for better medical care and treatment of Foreign Service employees impacted by Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs). After many years of AFSA advocacy, there has been a recent decline in AR numbers and measures to increase transparency in this program will be implemented following the conclusion of ongoing negotiations between AFSA and the Department. Colleen’s work on AHIs continues as AFSA seeks to ensure impacted employees’ needs are met by addressing issues arising in the course of their treatment with MED and other Department offices charged with facilitating Havana Act, Workers Compensation and other relevant claims.

She also represents employees in Diplomatic Security and Office of Inspector General investigations and assists employees facing disciplinary action. She counsels employees seeking to file assignment restriction and Pass Through appeals and fields questions regarding contact reporting procedures, dual nationality and a host of other issues related to the Department’s Security Clearance program.

Colleen grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has a B.A. in Political Science from the Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law.

She can be reached at

Senior Labor Management Advisor

James Yorke

James Yorke is AFSA’s Senior Labor Management Advisor, responsible for providing guidance to staff and AFSA Board members on Labor Management and policy issues, as well as providing guidance on matters pertaining to the Foreign Affairs Manual and the Foreign Service Act. James also provides advice and assistance to the many members who contact AFSA on a wide variety of issues, and particularly on payroll, travel and transportation matters.

James grew up in the United Kingdom and came to the United States after a 30-year career in the British Royal Navy. Before first joining AFSA in 1992, he accompanied his Foreign Service spouse to a tour in Karachi, Pakistan where he trained and supervised 4 local staff carrying out a project to transition from paper-based to online records retention. Later he assumed management of the consulate’s warden system, revitalizing it to keep expat US citizens safe and informed during the First Gulf War. James was again a “trailing spouse” from 1995 to 1998 in Bogotá, Colombia where he worked for the embassy’s Narcotics Affairs Section liaising with his Colombian counterparts to track and make a countrywide inventory of US-provided property. He rejoined AFSA soon after returning from Colombia.

In 2020 James was the Recipient of one of AFSA's Awards for Exemplary Performance. He has telecommuted from his home in North Carolina since moving there in 2010. He has four children and seven grandchildren.

He can be reached at

Labor Management Coordinator

Patrick Bradley

Patrick currently works for AFSA as a Labor Management Coordinator and Advisor. He has been at AFSA since about 2010, and in that time, he has worked in the headquarters office of AFSA directly with the AFSA President and Governing Boards, in the AFSA USAID office, and in the AFSA State Department office. Currently in the latter, he assists in the review and tracking of regulation changes (often the FAM and the FAH), assists members on a variety of issues, assists in assigning members to the AFSA attorneys and counselors when necessary, and works directly with the AFSA State Vice President. If you are in touch with the AFSA State Labor Management office, there’s a good chance you’ll be in touch with him or his close colleagues AFSA Senior Labor Management Advisor James Yorke or AFSA Senior Grievance Counselor Heather Townsend.

Patrick has served AFSA in the past as a Labor Management Assistant, as the AFSA Executive Assistant, as the AFSA Governance Specialist, and as a Labor Management Advisor prior to his current position with the association. Prior to his employment with AFSA, Patrick worked in the private sector in the finance and operations fields. He has traveled to all fifty states and has observed that there are all sorts of different cultures across our own country, and he has lived in six or seven of those states. He values community service not only for the sake of helping others, but also for the importance it plays in helping to create and bring a community together.

He can be reached at

Senior Grievance Counselor

Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is AFSA’s Senior Grievance Counselor. She has worked for AFSA since 2018. Heather assists AFSA members with the full range of grievances, with a focus on evaluation, low ranking, separation, and financial grievances. She also assists with discipline and EEO-related issues. She also helps negotiate changes to the terms and conditions of Foreign Service employment with the Department of State.

Prior to joining AFSA, Heather served for 29 years as a Foreign Service Officer, retiring in 2017 with the rank of Minister Counselor. She uses her State Department expertise to provide AFSA members high quality support and advice on employment issues.

Heather has an MA from the University of Michigan and a BA from Yale University, both in Russian Studies.

She can be reached at

Attorney Advisor

Benjamin Phillips

Benjamin has been an attorney advisor for the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) since July 2020. During law school, he worked as a law clerk for the labor-management team at AFSA from August 2018 to August 2019, and as a law clerk, he assisted with legal and regulatory research and assisted with representing members in their grievances. He returned to work for AFSA as an attorney advisor after graduating law school.

As an attorney advisor, Benjamin assists and represents AFSA members in the grievance process and appeals to the Foreign Service Grievance Board, covering all types of grievances (including EERs, tenure, low ranking, PSB separation, discipline). He also assists and represents AFSA members in EEO, DS, and OCR investigations as well as responding to proposals for discipline and VLA violation adjudications. He also conducts legal research on and assists in addressing policies and issues impacting members.

Benjamin graduated law school from the Washington College of Law at American University in DC in 2020. During law school, he also acted as a student attorney for the Washington College of Law’s Civil Advocacy Clinical Program, where he represented low-income clients in cases related to employment issues. He received a MA in interdisciplinary humanities from New York University in 2017, and he holds a BA in history from Mars Hill University in North Carolina. Benjamin moved to Washington, D.C. for law school, and he is from Tennessee originally and enjoys returning home to the Appalachian mountains to visit his family.

He can be reached at

Attorney Advisor

Erin Kate Brady

Erin Kate serves as one of the Attorney Advisors in AFSA’s Labor Management Office. While pursuing her legal education in the evening, Erin Kate worked on eBay, Inc.'s Government Relations Team, where she focused on federal policies affecting small business sellers across the nation.

During law school, Erin Kate served as a student attorney for the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic, providing representation to low-income taxpayers in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, she was an SEC Legal Scholar within the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's Enforcement Division, supporting investigations for potential violations of federal securities laws.

As an attorney advisor, Erin Kate assists AFSA members in the grievance process and appeals to the Foreign Service Grievance Board, covering all types of grievances, including EERs, tenure, low ranking, PSB separation, and discipline. She also assists in EEO, DS, and OCR investigations as well as responses to proposals for discipline.

Erin Kate holds a B.S.B.A. in International Business with a focus on Business Ethics and Legal Studies from the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. She earned her J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C.

She can be reached at

USAID Labor Management Advisor

Sue Bremner

Sue Bremner has worked as AFSA’s Labor-Management Advisor for USAID clients since her retirement from the State Department in 2019. She counsels forty to sixty clients per month, and advises the USAID Vice President on how to respond to revisions in regulations and working conditions affecting members. During her 30 years as an FSO with the State Department, she served as Chief of Mission at two embassies, and represented the United States to foreign governments and international organizations in Asia, Europe, and Africa, as well as domestically. As a visiting faculty member at National Defense University, she designed teaching units on statecraft, diplomatic practice, negotiation, policy analysis, regional affairs, and foreign assistance philosophy and practice. Her last tour with the State Department was as an assessor on the Board of Examiners. In that capacity, she administered the oral exam to determine which aspirants to State Department careers would make the greatest contributions to the diverse and skilled workforce we need for the future.

Throughout her career, Sue has supported colleagues who have felt themselves to be victims of institutional inflexibility or bias in contravention of EEO protections, helping them identify formal avenues of remedy. She has conducted her working life in the context of popular distrust of government, and growing societal tension involving security imperatives, individual liberties, and privacy. She strives to ensure due process and provide timely responses to persons seeking clarification of their entitlements. She has been a proud member of AFSA since her first days as an FSO in 1986.

She can be reached at

Law Clerk

Damian Dorrance-Steiner

Damian joined AFSA as a Law Clerk for the labor management team in October, 2023. At AFSA, Damian assists the team in conducting research on legal and regulatory issues connected to the representation of members.

Damian is currently a 2L at The George Washington University Law School, and is focusing on studying labor relations and employment law. They currently serve as co-president of the LGBTQ+ student association Lambda Law at GWU and are a member of the school’s Labor and Employment Law Society. Damian received a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from the University of Southern California in 2020, and their hometown is Columbus, Ohio.

Damian can be reached at