The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION CALENDAR Please check for the most up-to-date information. April 1 Deadline: High School Essay Contest submissions April 15 Federal and State Taxes due AFSA Tax Guide: April 17 12-1:30 p.m. AFSA Governing Board meeting May 2 AFSA Foreign Service Day event May 3 Foreign Service Day May 21 AFSA Centennial Gala May 27 Memorial Day AFSA O ces closed May 30 AFSA Centennial Birthday Party June 12 12-1:30 p.m. AFSA Governing Board meeting On the Road with AFSA’s President It’s been a busy travel season for AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi. In January, Yazdgerdi traveled to Sarasota, Miami, Boca Raton, and Jupiter, Fla., for a whirlwind trip that had him meeting with audiences ranging from college students and recent graduates interested in the Foreign Service to retired FS professionals and World A—airs Council members. In Sarasota, Yazdgerdi joined more than 70 FS retirees and spouses as the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the Foreign Service Retirees Association (FSRA). This was Yazdgerdi’s first time visiting the group since becoming AFSA president in 2023. He shared AFSA’s upcoming plans to mark the Foreign Service centennial and outlined AFSA’s recent advocacy work on the Hill. He also discussed AFSA’s recent success stories, including its work to increase the number of mental health professionals in the Bureau of Medical Services, expansion of emergency backup care, exceptions for government-financed air transportation, and support for tandem spouses in the Foreign Service. He then traveled to Miami, where he took part in a roundtable with honors students at the Miami Dade College (MDC) Wolfson campus. He was joined at the college by Diplomat in Residence Mignon Houston and Yamilee Bastien, a commercial oœcer at the Miami U.S. Export Assistance Center, who helped organize the meeting. Yazdgerdi also got an assist from his sister, Kristen Rosen-Gonzalez, a Miami Beach city commissioner and professor of communications at MDC, and from Magda Castinyera, MDC president of the Honors College dual language program. Yazdgerdi talked about the excitement of a Foreign Service career and about AFSA’s nonpartisan stance, explaining that “a nonpartisan AFSA ensures that the focus remains on the professional Tom Yazdgerdi, second from left, front row, and MDC’s Magda Castinyera with students from Miami Dade College in January. KRISTEN ROSEN-GONZALEZ needs of diplomats, such as fair working conditions, career development, and adequate resources.” However, he noted, nonpartisanship “must go both ways.” While AFSA does not take sides in political or policy battles, “we expect our elected and appointed leaders to respect the career professionals of the Foreign Service and we expect them to refrain from equating well-considered dissent with disloyalty.” FSJ Centennial Writing Competition And the Winner is … In September 2023, as part of our centennial outreach, the FSJ launched a writing competition asking AFSA members to submit 1,000-word essays describing the ideal Foreign Service for the next 100 years. We received 65 thought-provoking essays in response. So many of them were excellent; it was tough to narrow them down. But our judges have selected their top three essays, all of which will run in upcoming issues of the Journal beginning next month. Congratulations to: First place: Thomas “Toby” Wolf Second place: Darrow S. Godeski Merton Third place: Joshua Morris We thank our judges and all the writers who took the time to share their thoughts about the ideal Foreign Service. n Continued on page 49 THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 43