The Foreign Service Journal, May 2013

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2013 25 Five years after its founding, Executive Women at State has become a strong advocate of gender parity and diversity, within both the Foreign Service and Civil Service. BY CYNTH I A SABOE FOCUS DIVERSITYWITHIN THE FOREIGN SERVICE EW@S: SUPPORTING AND MENTORING FEMALE LEADERS W ith nearly 1,500 members, Executive Women at State is now the largest affin- ity group in the department. A sister group modeled on EW@S, Women @ AID, was established at the U.S. Agency for International Development last year, and has already grown to more than 400 members. The mission of both groups is to advocate for achieving gender parity for senior career women. Toward that end, EW@S places great emphasis on mentoring the next genera- tion of female leaders, within both the Foreign Service and Civil Service. Our roots go back to the early 1990s, when a group of United States Information Agency employees was active in the Women’s Action Organization. Years later, in the autumn of 2007, a foursome of WAO alumnae found themselves back together in Washington, all working at the State Department. The four—Julie Gianelloni Connor, Elizabeth Corwin, Georgia Hubert and Monica O’Keefe—began meeting over lunch to discuss how to reactivate a group focused on women’s issues. Their efforts led to the formal establishment of EW@S the following year. The organization held its inaugural event on Feb. 25, 2008, featuring Ambassador Robin Raphel. Other Cynthia Saboe, a State Department Civil Service employee since 1981, is president of Executive Women at State. She is currently the acting executive director in the Office of the Inspector General. speakers that first year included Under Secretary for Management Pat Kennedy, Office of Civil Rights Director John Robinson and Under Secretary for Global Affairs Paula Dobrianski. Inspiring Role Models Over the past five years, EW@S has held more than 50 depart- mentwide programs, including co-sponsorship of the department’s Women’s History Month and Women’s Equality Day observances. We were honored that former Secretary of State Hillary RodhamClin- ton accepted our invitation to be the keynote speaker for Women’s History Month in March 2009, one of her first presentations to the department. Some of our speakers have had a diplomatic connection. Jour- nalist Gwen Ifill, whose sister is a retired Foreign Service officer, recounted the challenges she faced as a young black journalist. When an anonymous colleague in one newsroom left a hostile note on her desk, for instance, she refused to let it get to her. Instead, she realized that “This clearly isn’t about me!” Cokie Roberts, whose mother, Lindy Boggs, served as U.S. ambas-