Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy

AFSA’s Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy honors those who have made extraordinary contributions to diplomacy and the diplomatic profession over many years. The American Foreign Service Association established its award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in 1995. By giving this high-profile award, AFSA also seeks to bring greater recognition to its other awards, including its unique annual awards for constructive dissent.

Originally, there were no criteria beyond those implied by the award’s name. First in 2009, and later in 2016, the AFSA Governing Board refined the criteria guidelines to be as follows:

  • The nominee should have at least a decade of service to diplomacy and foreign policy development, and have made an enduring, positive impact on the diplomatic profession itself, including but not limited to promoting the Foreign Service’s primary role in foreign policy within the executive and legislative branches and strengthening the institution of the Foreign Service.
  • The nominees are normally retired career diplomats, but may include other individuals in exceptional circumstances. When looking at an individual who was not a career member of the Foreign Service, one must consider the effect that the individual has had on promoting the role of the Foreign Service and championing diplomacy. 
  • The nominees are considered for their accomplishments during both active duty and in retirement. The enduring impact of their work on diplomacy, the profession, and diplomatic institutions and practices is particularly important.
  • Nominees must be able to attend the awards ceremony in person.

The presentation takes place during AFSA’s annual Awards Ceremony, typically in October at the Department of State. The Secretary of State is invited to present this award. If the Secretary is unable to attend, a distinguished individual who has worked with the recipient is asked to present the award. Colin Powell presented the award to Thomas Pickering and to George Shultz; Elliot Richardson presented the award to Frank Carlucci; Mr. Carlucci presented it to Lee Hamilton; Robert Zoellick presented it to Richard Lugar; Senator Lugar presented to award to Senator Nunn; and Lawrence Eagleburger presented the award to Joan Clark. Honorees are presented with a globe and certificate. Click here for a complete list of previous recipients.

For information on these awards, please contact AFSA's Awards and Scholarships Manager Theo Horn Green at or (202) 719-9705.


AFSA is honored to announce that Ambassador John D. Negroponte will receive the association’s 2021 Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in recognition of his outstanding Foreign Service career, his dedicated commitment to public service for over four decades, and his exemplary contributions to U.S. national security. The AFSA Governing Board voted unanimously at its March 18 meeting to award the honor to Ambassador Negroponte. Past recipients of this award include: Edward Perkins, George H.W. Bush, Thomas Pickering, Ruth Davis, George Shultz, Richard Lugar, Joan Clark, Ronald Neumann, Sam Nunn, Rozanne Ridgway, Nancy Powell, William Harrop and Herman ‘Hank’ Cohen.

Ambassador Negroponte was born in London, England, and was raised in New York. He received a bachelor's degree from Yale University after graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. Following a brief time at Harvard Law School, Amb. Negroponte joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1960. Ambassador Negroponte is married to Diana Villiers Negroponte.

Ambassador Negroponte held public service positions in Washington and abroad between 1960 and 1997 and again between 2001 and 2008 after he spent time working in the private sector. At the beginning of his career he was assigned to posts in Ecuador, Greece, Hong Kong, and Vietnam. In 1977 he served as a deputy assistant secretary of state for Oceans and Fisheries. In 1980 he held the same position for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Amb. Negroponte was named ambassador to Honduras in 1981 and held key ambassadorships in the following years, including Mexico (1989-1993), the Philippines (1993-1996), the U.N. (2001-2004), and Iraq (2004-2005).

In addition to serving as an ambassador for several years, he served on the National Security staff twice. Fist he acted as the Director for Vietnam in the Nixon Administration and then as Deputy National Security Advisor under President Reagan. In 2005 following his ambassadorship to Iraq, Amb. Negroponte held a cabinet level position as the first Director of National Intelligence under President Bush. This position was created in the wake of September 11, 2001 and aimed to centralize the leadership of U.S. intelligence agencies. In 2007, he became Deputy Secretary of State, where he served as the State Department's Chief Operating Officer until the end of President Bush's term, marking the end of Amb. Negroponte's time in government positions.

During his Foreign Service career, Amb. Negroponte received the highest award that can be conferred by the Secretary of State, the State Department Secretary's Distinguished Service Award, on two occasions. In 2005, he received the Raymond 'Jit' Trainor Award for Distinction in the Conduct of Diplomacy from Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. In 2006, he was the American Academy of Achievement's Golden Plat Award recipient. That same year, Amb. Negroponte was presented the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. Finally, in 2009, Amb. Negroponte was also awarded the National Security Medal by President Bush. Following his retirement from his career in public service, Amb. Negroponte was presented with two additional awards for his invaluable contributions to diplomacy. In 2014 he received the Distinguished Service Award for the Advancement of Public Discourse on Foreign Policy by the American Committees on Foreign Relations. In 2019, he was chosen as the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Award for Excellence in Diplomacy by The American Academy of Diplomacy.

After retiring from the Foreign Service Ambassador Negroponte taught international relations at Yale's Jackson Institute from 2009 and 2016 and at the Elliot School for International Affairs at George Washington University between 2016 and 2018. From 2018 to 2019, Amb. Negroponte was the James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. Amb. Negroponte serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Council of the Americas/Americas Society. He is also Co-chairman of the US-Philippines Society and a past member of the Secretary of State’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. He has also served as Chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance.

AFSA hopes to honor Ambassador Negroponte at our annual October Award Ceremony. During the AFSA awards ceremony, we will also present our awards for constructive dissent and exemplary performance. The recipients of those awards will be announced separately.