The Foreign Service Journal - March 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2018 61 Engaging AFSAMembers WHERE WE STAND | BY JULIE NUTTER, PROFESSIONAL POLICY ISSUES DIRECTOR AFSA NEWS As a professional association, AFSA protects and promotes the Foreign Service as a high- performance, rigorous profes- sion crucial to sustaining U.S. global leadership. The Foreign Service profession—and AFSA unequivocally believes it is a profession—has been threatened by proposed bud- get cuts, an exodus of Senior Foreign Service officers, slashed promotion numbers and strangled hiring. While the Foreign Ser- vice has many champions on Capitol Hill, it also needs to nurture and develop its internal champions, who will be engaged in fighting the good fight for years to come. It is long-term, intergenera- tional work, and it is a vital ingredient for the continuity and success of the Foreign Service. What distinguishes this work from, say, working to promote the profession for ourselves only, is that the stakes are the interests of the nation as a whole. One of AFSA’s principal goals is to do whatever it can to help these internal cham- pions be even more effective in their stewardship of the Foreign Service. Today, follow- ing the framework built by the Foreign Service Act, active- duty FS members recruit, hire, train, mentor and promote their colleagues in addition to running the day-to-day opera- tions of the Service. Foreign Service members are not just cogs in the wheels—they are the designers and operators of the wheels. Our design- ers need the best skills. Our operators need encourage- ment. They all need practical tools to be the sharpest they can be. That is why the Profes- sional Policy Issues team is placing a renewed emphasis on engaging members in 2018. AFSA will create even more opportunities for active- duty and retired members to get involved—either with advocacy, information shar- ing or professional develop- ment. We will focus on mak- ing curated content about the Foreign Service available to you for use with CODELS, public audiences and your own colleagues. We will ask more fre- quently for your input and feedback—continuing our structured conversations, for example, and trying out ways to bring our overseas mem- bers into them. We will use our convening power to give you opportunities to consult with, teach and learn from your professional colleagues. In partnership with our AFSA Labor Management col- leagues, we will monitor your feedback on how changes at State—particularly those connected with the redesign and ongoing changes like the new Professional Develop- ment Program—are affecting you personally and profes- sionally. We know that you expect value for your membership, and we are committed to increasing value to our mem- bers in ways that strengthen your stewardship of the Foreign Service. AFSA has been deepening its capacity for developing and dis- seminating content that will help all members promote, defend and enrich the Foreign Service and your role in it. We will expand our efforts to do this—to get you what you need—because you are the reason we are here. You are the stewards, and you provide the wisdom, the guidance and the courage to shape a future that is good for the Foreign Service and good for America. We look forward to being your partners, and, as always, thank you for your service. n AFSA Welcomes COO Russ Capps Russ Capps has joined AFSA in the newly created role of chief operating officer. Russ is a career associa- tion executive. He has worked for the Society for Human Resource Management, the Association of Corporate Counsel, the American Dental Education Association and, most recently, in a turnaround management role with the Construction Specifications Institute. Russ spent more than five years in the late 1990s and early 2000s working for the Centre for Development and Population Activities, a largely USAID-funded non-profit with international field offices. This experience showed him the importance of the Foreign Service abroad and at home, and allowed him to visit interesting places like Kathmandu, New Delhi and Cairo. Russ’ mother retired after more than 30 years in the budget office of the Foreign Agricultural Ser- vice; he likes that he has that connection. “I am thrilled to join an organization with such a stel- lar reputation as AFSA,” said Capps. Russ served on the Finance and Business Opera- tions Section Council of the American Society of Asso- ciation Executives from 2009 to 2017, chairing the council from 2016 to 2017. He serves on the board of the Federal City Performing Arts Association and, until recently, the Finance and Administration Roundtable. Russ likes to garden and spend time at his beach place with his husband Ken Yazge and their two Labrador retrievers—rescues number four and five, or Beau and Rusty, as they prefer being called. n