The Foreign Service Journal, May 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2018 63 Looking Back, Moving Forward FAS VP VOICE | BY KIMBERLY SAWATZKI AFSA NEWS Views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP. Contact: | (202) 720-3650 The FAS AFSA office recently underwent a renovation, which forced me to sort through decades of files. Because some of my pre- decessors were document collectors, I discovered a treasure trove of history hid- den in those files. The stacks of old FAS newsletters, phone lists and other documents will soon move to a new home in the archives of the National Agricultural Library. But in the meantime, I am fascinated by how things have evolved in FAS, particularly for women and minorities. In 1930, all FAS attachés were white males. Over the next 50 years, minor- ities and women occupied an increasing but still small per- centage of non-administrative positions in the agency. As a second-generation FAS Foreign Service officer, I got a glimpse of the old days in those files. During my father’s first overseas assignment, his evaluations included a section on my mother’s entertaining skills and general comportment. It was not until 1972 that this section was officially abol- ished. That same year, the Foreign Service also stopped forcing female FSOs to resign after they got married. While progress for women and minorities has been inching forward over many decades, rights for gay offi- cers were not seen as an issue until the 1990s. In fact, prior to 1995 a security clearance could be denied solely on the basis of sexual orientation. It was not until 1998 that a presidential executive order barred discrimination based on sexual orientation in the federal workplace. Progress for women, minorities and the LGBTI community has come in the form of societal transforma- tion, legal action, trailblazers and allies who supported change. Although our work- force is increasingly diverse, we are still on a long road toward equality. Can we finally achieve equal pay and proportional representation in high-level positions for minorities and women?Will the #MeToo movement help eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace?When will the government finally offer paid maternity/paternity leave? How soon will other under- served and under-represented groups achieve advancement? Slow progress is still prog- ress, but we have the power to speed things up. I hope future FSOs will look back at current times with surprise at howmuch has evolved since today. n Telling Our Story: Outreach at AFSA AFSA’s outreach efforts continue as we head into the summer months. After close to 40 speaking engagements across the country in Janu- ary, February and March—in places ranging from Ames, Iowa, to Minneapolis, Min- nesota—our Foreign Service retirees remain committed to telling the story of the Foreign Service from coast to coast, explaining to their fel- low citizens what diplomats do and why it matters. In addition, 12 retired members of the Foreign Service spoke at a Road Scholar educa- tional program in Washing- ton, D.C., in April. AFSA has also engaged with retiree members on our annual effort to place letters to the editor in newspapers around the country ahead of Foreign Service Day on May 4. Last year, we had 54 placements and look forward to reporting on what we hope will be an even greater suc- cess this year. AFSA board and staff members also do their part. On Foreign Service Day, former outreach coordinator Dr. Catherine Kannenberg will speak to the Charlotte International Rotary Club in Charlotte, N.C. AFSA Presi- dent Ambassador Barbara Stephenson has a packed schedule in the coming weeks and months, as well. After a high-profile appearance alongside Ambassador (ret.) Nicholas Burns at the Boston Public Library in February (see page 60), In May, Amb. Stephen- son will meet with the Foreign Affairs Retirees of Maryland and Washington D.C. In June, she will speak to a large Oasis lifelong learning class in Maryland. In August, Amb. Stephen- son will be a featured speaker during the summer season at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., where she is expected to address an audience of 4,000. We continue to encour- age retiree members to join the AFSA Speakers Bureau. Members of the bureau have access to regularly updated talking points and speaker resources, as well as early access to AFSA event regis- tration. It’s an ideal vehicle for channeling your desire to be engaged and allows mem- bers to be part of the ongoing effort to enlarge the U.S. Foreign Service’s domestic constituency. Learn more at www.afsa. org/speakers. n