The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

12 MAY 2024 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS I came into the business when it was still the Cold War, and it was very much a bipolar world. And then we had this moment where we thought, after the Soviet Union fell, that we would be able to knit both Russia and China into the democratic family. We would have this great lifting of all peoples in all boats. And then, of course, that became harder and harder. So what I would say is it’s essentially the same as it’s always been, that both our democratic allies around the world, but also countries that are fragile, countries that need support, will always look to the United States for help in coming up with democratic, free and open solutions. —Career Ambassador and former Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland reflecting on her retirement from government on NPR’s Morning Edition, March 29. Contemporary Quote Virginia House Resolution for FS Centennial Virginia House delegates David Reid (D-28) and Paul Krizek (D-16) sponsored a joint resolution honoring the Foreign Service and AFSA on their dual centennials. The resolution passed on March 6. AFSA retiree member Jim Meenan was instrumental in getting the resolution drafted. Meenan approached Del. Reid at a community event in Ashburn, Va., to propose the idea of a resolution, and, said Meenan, the result was an “outstanding document highlighting the history of the Foreign Service and the devotion of its members.” The resolution notes that more than 13,900 Foreign Service members are currently posted at 279 diplomatic missions around the world and that more than 321 have died in the line of duty. It also recognizes passage of the Rogers Act, which created the modern Foreign Service. Since then, the resolution reads, “the United States Foreign Service has carried out vital diplomacy, implementing the foreign policy of the United States, and provided assistance to American citizens living, working, and traveling abroad.” The resolution continues: “Members of the United States Foreign Service continue to provide accurate information, expert counsel, and wise guidance to policymakers, the media, and scholars.” The FSOA Goes Virtual Beginning with candidates who took the Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) in February 2024, the department is moving to a fully virtual Foreign Service Officer Assessment (FSOA). The move “significantly increases accessibility for candidates” by eliminating financial and other logistical hurdles that have prevented some qualified candidates from applying. “We knew for a fact that we were losing good candidates who simply couldn’t afford it,” Deputy Assistant Secretary for Global Talent Management Lucia Piazza told Federal News Network (FNN). This change to a fully virtual format follows nearly four years of conducting virtual Foreign Service Specialist Assessments (FSSA), which have demonstrated the benefits of a more accessible process while maintaining the rigor and effectiveness of the assessments. AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi said: “We’ve heard from our members who have asked, ‘Can you really size someone up virtually the same way you can in person?’ The department says, ‘Yes, we can.’ We have an open mind and have seen a preliminary demonstration, so we are hopeful this will work.” The virtual test retains the same three components—a case management exercise, a group exercise, and a structured interview. The “13 dimensions” for evaluation have changed somewhat, and there are now 11 total. Piazza said the new test is “streamlined, tighter and more closely tied to the skills that we believe we need in our diplomatic corps.” The other change is in the name, from FS “oral” assessment to FS “officer” assessment. Piazza told FNN the change recognizes that not everyone communicates orally. “We’ve had a number of candidates who communicate using sign language, and we want to make sure that we’re being inclusive,” she explained. New CDIO Appointed On April 2, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the appointment of a new chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO). Zakiya Carr Johnson will lead the department’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She replaces the department’s first CDIO, Ambassador Gina AbercrombieWinstanley, who served in the role from April 2021 until June 2023. Carr Johnson worked at the State Department from 2010 to 2017 as a senior adviser and director of the Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit. She was also previously co-chair for the White House Inter-Agency Committee on Gender-Based Violence Monitoring and Evaluation.