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 Anne W. Patterson will receive the association’s 2022 Award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy in recognition of her outstanding Foreign Service career, her lifelong commitment to public service, and her exemplary contributions to U.S. foreign policy. The AFSA Governing Board voted unanimously at its May meeting to award the honor to Ambassador Patterson. Past recipients of this award include John Negroponte, 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 Patterson joined the Foreign Service in 1973 and held a variety of both economic and political assignments, including in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Her first assignment was in Ecuador (1974-1977) as an economic officer. She later served as economic officer and counselor in Saudi Arabia (1984-1988), becoming one of the first female FSOs to serve there. Ambassador Patterson went on to serve as political counselor to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva (1988-1991), office director for Andean Affairs (1991-1993), deputy assistant secretary for Central America and the Caribbean (1993-1995), and deputy assistant secretary of Interamerican Affairs (1996).

In 1997 she returned to Latin America where she served as ambassador to El Salvador (1997-2000) and to Colombia (2000-2003) during the beginning of both countries’ peace processes. From 2003 to 2004, Amb. Patterson was State Department deputy inspector general and acted as deputy permanent representative and acting permanent representative to the United Nations (2004-2005). From 2005 until 2007, she served as assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. After holding these key posts, Ambassador Patterson returned abroad to serve as ambassador to Pakistan (2007-2010) and as ambassador to Egypt (2011-2013), where she navigated the overthrow of President Musharraf in Pakistan, as well as the Arab Spring and the overthrow of President Morsi in Egypt. Finally, she served as assistant secretary for Near Eastern and North African Affairs at the Department of State from 2013 until she retired in 2017. Amb. Patterson retired with the rank of Career Ambassador after more than four decades in the Foreign Service.

Throughout her illustrious career, Ambassador Patterson has been the recipient of several distinguished awards. She is a two-time recipient of the State Department’s Distinguished Service award. She received the Department of State's Superior Honor Award in 1981 and 1988, its Meritorious Honor Award in 1977 and 1983, and a Presidential award in 1993. In 2011, Amb. Patterson was named one of Foreign Policy’s 100 Top Global Thinkers.

After retiring from the Foreign Service, Ambassador Patterson has been appointed to two congressional commissions: the Commission on National Defense Strategy in 2017 and the Syria Study Group in 2019. In 2017 Amb. Patterson taught international relations and diplomacy as a Kissinger Senior Fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale, where she is currently a senior fellow. Ambassador Patterson has also been an active member of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a trustee of the Una Chapman Cox Foundation.

Ambassador Anne Patterson was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas. She earned a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1971 before attending graduate school at the University of North Carolina. Ambassador Patterson is married to David R. Patterson, a retired Foreign Service officer. They have two sons, Edward and Andrew, and two stepdaughters, Rachel and Jessica.

AFSA hopes to honor Ambassador Patterson 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.