Awards and Honors

As a professional association and labor union, AFSA seeks to highlight achievement, performance, courage and sacrifice within the Foreign Service community. Our awards program began in 1968 and has continued to expand to recognize the work of our colleagues. We are proud to be able to spotlight the best of our community.

Click here to watch previous AFSA Awards Ceremonies


Constructive Dissent Awards: AFSA's Constructive Dissent Awards recognize Foreign Service members who work constructively within the system to change policy and performance for the better. Such dissent may be made in any non-public channel including meetings, emails to superiors, memoranda, telegrams, or via the State Department's formal Dissent Channel. Thus, AFSA's Constructive Dissent Awards may be given to, but are not restricted to, employees who send in Dissent Channel messages. These awards are unique within the federal government, and remain the lynchpin of AFSA’s awards program. There is no democracy without dissent, and the U.S. Foreign Service must remain a leader in the encouragement of respectful yet provocative constructive dissent.

Exemplary Performance Awards: These six awards are meant to highlight the professionalism and spirit of service and volunteerism found within the Foreign Service community. These awards honor community liaison officers, office management specialists, family members, and AFSA post representatives for their important contributions at work, at home and in the community at large. We also honor (non-monetary) contributions to AFSA and those who have excelled in the advancement of democracy.

Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy: Each year, AFSA selects a truly inspiring and respected diplomat or public servant to receive our highest award for their contributions to the conduct and success of American diplomacy. The criteria call for a sustained commitment to the cause for a good portion of their professional lives; with a roster of previous winners ranging from President George H.W. Bush to Ambassador Nancy Powell and Ambassador Edward Perkins, there is no shortage of patriots and practitioners of diplomacy from whom to choose.

Foreign Service Champions Award: AFSA’s Foreign Service Champions Award honors the accomplishments of influential non-career members of the foreign affairs community who have made meaningful contributions to diplomacy and the Foreign Service. AFSA established this award in 2021 to bring greater recognition to those who have demonstrably championed the Foreign Service’s critical role in U.S. foreign policy and have had an enduring and positive impact on the institution of the Foreign Service as well as the diplomatic profession.

Sinclaire Language Awards: The study of hard languages is an important part of any Foreign Service career. These awards celebrate those Foreign Service employees who have demonstrated the greatest facility and success in learning a hard or super hard language. Training may have taken place may have taken place at FSI, elsewhere, or individually, but must be documented by an official FSI proficiency test. The awards are made possible through a generous bequest from former FSO Mathilda W. Sinclaire.

AFSA Strategic Writing Award: Each year, AFSA honors the Foreign Service employee whose essay has been chosen as the best from among their cohort during the National Defense University graduation ceremonies.

AFSA Memorial Plaques: Memorial plaques in the C Street lobby of the Department of State honor those of our colleagues who have given their lives in circumstances distinctive to overseas service. AFSA is proud to administer these plaques to preserve the memory of these courageous individuals. Each May, we add names and honor those on the plaques during a solemn ceremony on Foreign Service Day.

Note that we accept awards nominations all year, but the deadline for 2025 is Friday, March 14.

AFSA is grateful to the many individuals and organization that make our awards and honors programs possible through their generous support. Our thanks to the Delavan Foundation, the Ambassador William R. Rivkin family, the Avis Bohlen family, Dr. Sushma Palmer, and Clements Worldwide. Their dedication to the Foreign Service community is greatly appreciated.

All of AFSA’s awards programs, as well the AFSA memorial plaques, are administered by AFSA's Programs and Member Engagement department. They are available at AFSA’s Awards and Plaques Committee has institutional oversight over these programs and has primary responsibility for the recommendation of award recipients and plaque honorees.