The Foreign Service Journal, May 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | MAY 2024 29 I believe AFSA also provides especially valuable support to small foreign affairs agencies such as FAS and the Foreign Commercial Service in helping them lift their voices to promote the Foreign Service and present a greater vision of the way diplomacy can successfully represent the wonderful variety of Americans as well as global trade’s contribution to our economic success. Professional Support AFSA’s role as a professional organization is often underrated. FAS officers gain enormous benefit from AFSA’s support in accessing training and other professional development resources at the State Department and elsewhere. Attending FSI and modeling our training on its example enhance our ability to cross-train and become more effective members of the country team. Not only are we proud of our recent ambassadors, but FAS officers frequently serve as acting deputy chiefs of mission and in other mission support roles. Like all federal agencies, FAS has a lot of work to do to improve, and AFSA has to be part of the solution. Hiring, employee retention, performance management, limited budgets, expanding mandates, and information technology are real issues that FAS and other agencies struggle to address. Specifically, AFSA can provide important support for small foreign affairs agencies within departments that generally have a domestic mandate. Due to the small size of the Foreign Service community in FAS and the sometimes-understandable reluctance to openly share concerns because it is hard to speak anonymously, AFSA has an invaluable role as a conduit for honest feedback and ideas to improve our agency. The FAS AFSA vice president and the working groups they form around these issues are critical in ensuring broad community involvement in development and implementation of solutions. In addition to contributing to AFSA, I believe that FAS members and agriculture have a great story to tell about the importance of diplomacy, the Foreign Service, and AFSA. While a small sector of the overall U.S. economy, agriculture is one of the most widely dispersed industries across the country and the largest economic sector in many states and communities. While FAS strives to promote exports to help drive agriculture and provide support to rural economies, these communities can also be great advocates for sustained global engagement, linking diplomacy to domestic economic development. FAS AFSA members need to take an active role in broadening the constituency of diplomacy in the United States and helping to communicate concrete examples where Foreign Service officers add direct economic value to American communities. All AFSA members need to conduct outreach to explain how diplomacy, economic diplomacy in the case of FAS, is a powerful force for improving the lives of Americans. Effective outreach will not only strengthen the foreign affairs community, our agencies, and AFSA, but also enhance our ability to strengthen American security and economic interests. Just as FAS Foreign Service officers voted to join AFSA in 1994 and cemented a formative event for our agency, I feel that FAS members can and will be strong contributors and strengthen the association for the next 100 years of its history. n Director General Petry (center) engages with scientific researchers on bee health in Taiwan. Director General Petry examines an artichoke plant during a visit to producers and exporters in California. USDA/FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE USDA/FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE