The Foreign Service Journal, March 2024

AFSA NEWS 66 MARCH 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Employee Spotlight: Ásgeir Sigfússon It seems likely that, as a kid growing up in Iceland, Ásgeir Sigfússon never heard of the American Foreign Service Association. So we had to ask: How did a boy who grew up in Iceland end up as the executive director of a D.C.-based, global organization focusing on issues of importance to the U.S. Foreign Service? “A relative was a diplomat in Iceland, and we visited them at post a couple of times,” explains Ásgeir. “My family also knew one of our foreign ministers and her husband personally, so that felt cool and completely attainable as a future career goal.” Thus armed with dreams of diplomacy, Ásgeir left Iceland in 1997 to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in international relations. From there, he moved to Washington, D.C., to earn a master’s from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. But why AFSA? “I stumbled into an internship with AFSA during my first semester of grad school at Georgetown in August 2001, and I was on the Hill with our advocacy team on September 11,” says Ásgeir. “You would think that might have scared me away from staying, but no: I stayed with AFSA as an intern throughout graduate school and was offered a full-time position when I graduated.” Ásgeir became a full-time employee of AFSA on July 7, 2003, and he’s since become an invaluable part of the organization, rising from assistant to the vice president to director of new media to director of communications before becoming executive director. “I love how every day at AFSA is different,” Ásgeir says. He finds the variety essential to being challenged at work. He also likes the fact that AFSA is a small organization because “it’s possible to make positive organizational change without slaying too many dragons along the way.” He adds, “It’s great to have worked with a succession of supportive boards and presidents.” Current AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi says: “Ásgeir is a tremendous asset to our organization. He knows our history and believes in our goals. We’re fortunate to have him on our team.” Ásgeir still returns to Iceland as often as possible. “My COVID madness was to purchase an apartment in Reykjavík and we have been enjoying the process of creating a home there although there is no plan to live there for long periods until retirement.” He loves taking road trips and tries to visit two new countries each year. Ásgeir points to family and friends as a source of happiness. “I consider myself extremely lucky in the family and friends that surround me, and I spend as much time with them as I possibly can.” Here at AFSA, we consider ourselves lucky to have Ásgeir as a friend and trusted colleague. n Ásgeir and his husband, Sean, in Sapporo, Japan, in January 2020. COURTESY ÁSGEIR SIGFÚSSON AFSA Editorial Board Welcomes New Member The Foreign Service Journal is excited to welcome Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt to its editorial board. Amb. Galt is a Senior Foreign Service officer and longtime AFSA member currently serving as an assessor with the Board of Examiners in Washington, D.C. She joined the Foreign Service in 1989 and has served in Jennifer Zimdahl Galt Taipei, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, Brussels, Guangzhou, Honolulu, and as ambassador to Mongolia (2015-2017). Her breadth of experience as an FSO and leader, and as a mentor for others, is a welcome addition to the Editorial Board. Her June 2015 FSJ article, “Diversity in Diplomacy: The Mentorship Dimension,” is still relevant today. Galt says the Journal “plays a critical role as a forum for Foreign Service professionals to share policy challenges, reminding newer members of the historical context for today’s crises and providing information on the unique features of FS life, from moving to education to financial planning.” Editorial Board member and retired Foreign Service Officer Jane Carpenter-Rock has moved on after completing a two-year term on the board. We thank Jane for her always thoughtful insights and guidance. n Ásgeir Sigfússon