The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MARCH 2024 63 AFSA NEWS AFSA Meets with Employee Organizations In late 2023, following the horrific Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the subsequent Israeli response and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, AFSA management met with several employee organizations at the State Department to discuss their priorities and concerns. In each of these meetings, AFSA reiterated the importance of the internal Dissent Channel for constructive dissent on policy issues and discussed AFSA Governing Board efforts to increase department mental health services. On Oct. 30, AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi, State VP Tina Wong, and State Representatives Greg Floyd and Lynette Behnke met with employee organization American Muslims and Friends at State. AMFAS was started to foster community among Muslim employees and those employees interested in Muslim cultures. This EO provides members with mentoring, professional development, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) resources, and opportunities for employees and prospective employees to learn about the U.S. Department of State, and to advance diversity, inclusion, and equity in the department. AMFAS leaders discussed the need for prayer or meditation rooms to accommodate religious practices, both at Main State and overseas; they specifically noted the lack of a prayer room in the Harry S Truman Building. Members interested in joining or working with AMFAS should email On Nov. 1, Yazdgerdi, Wong, Floyd, and State Representative Kim Harrington met with members of Arab Americans in Foreign Affairs Agencies. AAIFAA works to promote and protect cultural, linguistic, personal, and professional assets shared by Arab Americans. AAIFAA leadership discussed the rise in anti-Arab and Islamophobic sentiment in the United States and ways to support Arab American staff at the department. Members interested in learning more can contact On Jan. 9, Yazdgerdi, Wong, Floyd, and Behnke met with members of the Jewish Americans in Diplomacy employee organization. JAD advocates for Jewish employees’ religious and cultural needs and concerns, counters antisemitism, and promotes religious tolerance and human rights within the department. JAD leadership discussed concerns about rising antisemitism at the department and across the U.S. For more information, please contact AFSA continues to meet with employee organizations to keep in touch with their concerns and offer support. n On the Agenda: Road Safety On Dec. 5, 2023, AFSA leaders met again with Rochelle Sobel, president of the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), continuing a discussion of ways in which the two organizations can combine forces to raise awareness and push for enactment of global road safety measures. Sobel founded ASIRT in 1995, after a bus accident in Türkiye killed her then 25-year-old son, Aron, and 22 other passengers. AFSA leaders explained that improving road safety overseas and domestically is a key priority for our members; AFSA is pushing to get road safety added to new employee briefings at every post overseas. Former AFSA President Ambassador Eric Rubin wrote about ASIRT and the urgent need for improved road safety in the April 2023 edition of The Foreign Service Journal. As Amb. Rubin noted, road safety is a serious issue for the Foreign Service. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens—including Foreign Service members— living and working overseas. One of the State Department’s own awards is named after the late Hayden Brown, a Foreign Service officer who lost his life in a car crash while on assignment in India in 2017. Today, ASIRT publishes road safety reports for its members overseas; they offer AFSA members a 20 percent discount on the reports. Go to, enter $40 as the payment amount (the original price is $60 per report), and select “corporate/nonprofit agreement” as the subscription purchase level. AFSA conducted a road safety survey of its members in 2023; the results can be found in the September 2023 Foreign Service Journal. For more information on ASIRT, visit Stay safe out there. n At the ASIRT Gala on Nov. 15, 2023, from left: AFSA/ASIRT board member Kimberly Harrington, ASIRT founder Rochelle Sobel, AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi, and Amb. Eric Rubin. AFSA/SEAN O’GORMAN