The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2024

USAID VP VOICE | BY RANDY CHESTER AFSA NEWS THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024 41 Contact: | (202) 712-5267 Welcome to 2024. It’s a big year for the Foreign Service, and hope springs eternal for a big year at USAID. This year we are celebrating 100 years of the Foreign Service and 100 years of the American Foreign Service Association! In addition to the year of festivities, be on the lookout for changes inside USAID and more outreach, engagement, and support from your AFSA representatives. The new year brings an opportunity to set your priorities for the days, weeks, and months to come. Here at AFSA USAID, our agenda is long and our priorities, as always, remain focused on you, our members. AFSA USAID Priorities Member Meetups. Continue hosting monthly meetings to give USAID FSOs an opportunity to hear directly from AFSA on efforts to promote and protect them, to discuss issues facing staff in the field and in D.C., and to strategize ways to interact with USAID leadership to effect positive change. Backstop Coordinator and Employee Resource Group Engagement. Promote engagement with employee resource groups (ERGs) on issues such as supporting professional development and increasing diversity in hiring, training, and promotions. Continue working with backstop coordinators on staffing, assignments, and promotion issues. Quarterly Discussion Forums with Agency Leaders. Build on our successful “Meet the Agency Counselor” meetings and develop a senior leader speaker series to brief members on key policy reforms affecting FSOs. Membership and Post Representative Expansion. Expand outreach to new staff during new employee orientation training to increase enrollment in AFSA by non-career Foreign Service Limited (FSL) staff, aiming for 100 percent enrollment of new Career Candidate Corps officers. Recruit overseas staff to become AFSA post representatives. Regular Meetings with USAID Leadership. Use ongoing AFSA VP one-on-one meetings with Deputy Administrator Paloma Adams-Allen, Counselor Clinton White, Deputy Assistant Administrator Kathryn Stevens, and others to lobby for and protect the rights of USAID FSOs. Strengthening Foreign Service/Senior Foreign Service Initiative. Work with the agency to ensure successful implementation of this initiative for promotion and assignment reform; regularly engage membership on new developments for input and feedback. Member Support. Respond to member queries and provide support and guidance to navigate the agency grievance process, understand personnel policies, receive all available What’s in Store for ’24 allowances, and ensure employment rights are protected. FSL Grievance. Pursue resolution of the grievance filed with the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board over the agency’s misuse and overuse of its FSL hiring authority. AFSA Priorities D.C./Domestic Cost of Living. Analyze survey and relevant economic data to develop new policies and/or incentive programs to attract FSOs to serve in domestic positions. Telework/Remote Work Monitoring. Maintain vigilance on workplace gains regarding telework and remote work to ensure equity and access for FSOs on domestic assignments. Mental Health Resource Group. Establish a multi-agency AFSA group to collect and disseminate mental health resources. This may include establishing a web portal for mental health resources, assessing mental health needs, and developing new policies or guidelines. Federal Employee Group Life Insurance. Lobby for changes to the overseas death benefit to align with virtual locality retirement pay levels. Currently, the overseas death benefit is set at the overseas comparability rate. Life Overseas and in the U.S. Continue lobbying for change to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dog ban, recognition of professional certificates and licenses regardless of issuing state, and development of road safety training for all household members. It promises to be a big year. But all is not just business. Look for notices on how you can participate in and help us celebrate our 100th anniversary by joining us for Foreign Service Day celebrations in D.C., create your own centennial party at your mission with AFSA’s “Anniversary in a Box,” or submit an article to The Foreign Service Journal. This is a year to mark. As the Journal continues to seek USAID voices and stories, think about writing during this special centennial year. You can submit articles and queries to; get more guidance at Let’s see how many USAID FSOs can get published this year! As always, never hesitate to reach out to us—we are here to help and serve you. You can reach us via email at chester@,, and; phone (202) 712-5267, and of course come by our office in the Ronald Reagan Building 3.09D. Take care, and have a fantastic 2024! n