The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2023

20 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL When Lightning Struck Twice How AFSA’s “Young Turks” Launched the Union FOCUS AFSA AS A UNION AT 50 N ext year, in 2024, we celebrate AFSA’s centennial. For the first half of its century, AFSA was a small profes- sional association with little income, a tiny staff, and almost no influence beyond its membership of American diplomats. Then, in the late 1960s, lightning struck. Twice. First, a group of junior and middle-grade Foreign Service officers (FSOs) decided to contest AFSA’s 1967 leadership elections. The goals of these “Young Turks” (as we came to be called) were to use AFSA as a vehicle to: ☑ make the Foreign Service (FS) more professionally effective by giving AFSA a voice in the functioning of the personnel system; ☑ create safeguards against management abuse; and ☑ build AFSA’s political and financial strength to the point that we could defend the Foreign Service as an institution and individual Foreign Service personnel against external political attacks. From 1970 through 2019, Ambassador Thomas Boyatt served on various AFSA Governing Boards as president, vice president, secretary, treasurer (multiple times), retiree vice president, and retiree represen- tative. An FSO from 1959 until 1985, he served as ambassador to Colombia and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and chargé d’affaires in Chile, in addition to postings in Nicosia, Luxem- bourg, and Antofagasta (Chile). In Washington, D.C., he served as chief of staff for the assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs and as director of the Office of Cypriot Affairs. Once a polite diplomats’ society, AFSA is now a financially and politically strong union and a player on the wider stage—with the administration, Congress, and the American public. BY THOMAS BOYATT