BY JULIE NUTTER
As a professional association, AFSA protects and promotes the Foreign Service as a high-performance, rigorous profession crucial to sustaining U.S. global leadership. The Foreign Service profession—and AFSA unequivocally believes it is a profession—has been threatened by proposed budget cuts, an exodus of Senior Foreign Service officers, slashed promotion numbers and strangled hiring.
While the Foreign Service has many champions on Capitol Hill, it also needs to nurture and develop its internal champions, who will be engaged in fighting the good fight for years to come. It is long-term, intergenerational work, and it is a vital ingredient for the continuity and success of the Foreign Service. What distinguishes this work from, say, working to promote the profession for ourselves only, is that the stakes are the interests of the nation as a whole.
One of AFSA’s principal goals is to do whatever it can to help these internal champions be even more effective in their stewardship of the Foreign Service. Today, following the framework built by the Foreign Service Act, active-duty FS members recruit, hire, train, mentor and promote their colleagues in addition to running the day-to-day operations of the Service. Foreign Service members are not just cogs in the wheels—they are the designers and operators of the wheels. Our designers need the best skills. Our operators need encouragement. They all need practical tools to be the sharpest they can be.
That is why the Professional Policy Issues team is placing a renewed emphasis on engaging members in 2018. AFSA will create even more opportunities for active-duty and retired members to get involved—either with advocacy, information sharing or professional development. We will focus on making curated content about the Foreign Service available to you for use with CODELS, public audiences and your own colleagues.
We will ask more frequently for your input and feedback—continuing our structured conversations, for example, and trying out ways to bring our overseas members into them. We will use our convening power to give you opportunities to consult with, teach and learn from your professional colleagues.
In partnership with our AFSA Labor Management colleagues, we will monitor your feedback on how changes at State—particularly those connected with the redesign and ongoing changes like the new Professional Development Program—are affecting you personally and professionally.
We know that you expect value for your membership, and we are committed to increasing value to our members in ways that strengthen your stewardship of the Foreign Service. AFSA has been deepening its capacity for developing and disseminating content that will help all members promote, defend and enrich the Foreign Service and your role in it. We will expand our efforts to do this—to get you what you need—because you are the reason we are here. You are the stewards, and you provide the wisdom, the guidance and the courage to shape a future that is good for the Foreign Service and good for America. We look forward to being your partners, and, as always, thank you for your service.