The Office of the AFSA President

Thomas Yazdgerdi, AFSA President

Welcome to the AFSA President’s page! The 2023-2025 AFSA Governing Board pledges to do its best to represent the 16,800 members of the association and to leave the Foreign Service as a stronger and more vital institution at the end of our term. I want also to take this opportunity to recognize outgoing AFSA President Eric Rubin for his wise and collegial leadership during the last four years. It was truly a pleasure to serve with him!

AFSA faces many challenges during the tenure of this Governing Board. In a time when we need to grow the Foreign Service to fill positions overseas and domestically (especially at the mid-level), our future appropriations are likely to be flat. And in the face of stubbornly high inflation, that means that these budgets are actually declining. That has implications not only for keeping our workforce healthy and productive but for the success of Foreign Service reform, especially the need to have enough staff to allow for greater training and development. Other priority issues include greater agency support for EFM employment, making sure our members who suffer from Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs) get the treatment and support they need, ensuring the new assignment restrictions policy does not discriminate against any group, and streamlining the onerous process of ambassadorial confirmations and promotions into the senior ranks.

I am confident that AFSA can meet these challenges because we have a strong record of achievement. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite initial pushback from management, we got 20 hours of administrative leave per pay period for our members. AFSA made it easier for our members to abide by the CDC dog ban and was instrumental in getting new benefits for those traveling with pets. With passage of the Foreign Service Families Act in 2021, we now have the ability to break residential and vehicle leases without penalty when going overseas on official orders. This legislation also ensures that we are provided in-state tuition for our kids, just like the military, when serving abroad.

With our great staff both at headquarters and at the State Department, AFSA will highlight in 2024 the 100th anniversary of both the modern Foreign Service and AFSA as a professional organization. That will give AFSA added leverage to continue to build relations with major media and bipartisan support in Congress to get more wins for our members. That includes per diem for all new hires, regardless from where they are hired, or doing away with restrictions on salary and hours for our reemployed annuitants. Diversity remains a huge concern, as we cannot adequately represent our country with a service lacking in diversity on many levels. AFSA is committed to playing a major role in finding ways to increase diversity, reduce attrition and boost the low morale that is all too common among our members in these difficult times.

For AFSA to be an effective voice of the Foreign Service, and for us to tell our story more convincingly both to the American public and to our Congress, we need your broad and sustained engagement. With this engagement and support, we can continue to develop an AFSA that is a powerful advocate for diplomacy and the Foreign Service. I welcome your comments and suggestions. AFSA's members are more than our eyes and ears around the world – you are a rich source of experience, insights and skills, as well as our motivation. Please feel free to contact me at or our staff at


Columns from The Foreign Service Journal