The Foreign Service Journal, June 2022

AFSA NEWS 60 JUNE 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA Spotlight Susan Maitra: 20 Years with the FSJ It’s no hyperbole to say that Foreign Service Journal Senior Editor Susan Maitra has brought her keen eye and artful touch to thousands of FSJ articles and features since joining the editorial team in 2002. AFSA News caught up with her as we cel- ebrate her 20th anniversary with the magazine. Raised in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Susan studied English and history at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Drawn to wordsmith- ing from a young age, she got her start in the field as an editorial assistant for McGraw-Hill in New York City. When asked about the early days of her career, Susan, in her characteris- tic no-nonsense fashion, replied, “Oh, there are only about two sentences before I came to AFSA.” Those sentences, how- ever, are significant: In 1983, Susan relocated to India, where she lived for 16 years with her husband and their two children. There, she worked as an editorial con- sultant to book publishers, providing professional editing for what was then a nascent English-language trade pub- lishing industry in New Delhi. On returning to the U.S., Susan worked briefly as a technical writer in North- ern Virginia before she was named associate editor at the FSJ . In the two decades since, she has become man- aging editor and then senior editor, always a guiding force behind the magazine’s vision and content, commission- ing and then editing articles, working directly with authors to shape drafts into print- ready pieces. She’s also played critical roles in major AFSA Publica- tions team projects, including her work on Foreign Service Books (AFSA’s imprint) as an editor for the Inside a U.S. Embassy books and the AFSA history book. She was a lead creator for the FSJ centennial exhibit shown at the National Museum of American Diplomacy for three months in 2018. No matter how rough initial submissions are (and they can be rough!), Susan finds the way to mold them into polished final products. She has mastered the art of the editor’s “invisible hand,” capable of strengthening the piece while maintaining the author’s voice. “Susan shines as both a writer and an editor,” said managing editor Kathryn Owens. “She has been a great mentor to me, and to our team, and that’s invaluable.” Susan has served with dedication and attention to AFSA’s mission. She’s been production manager, copy editor, proofreader and sub- stantive editor all at the same time, keeping up with the relentless pace of a monthly magazine. “I know of no better editor than Susan,” says FSJ Editor- in-Chief Shawn Dorman. “She can look at any piece of writing and see the essence of it, pull the threads that need pulling and weave them together in just the right way. She’s been a wonderful colleague, partner and friend for more than 20 years, and I honestly can’t imagine the Journal without her.” After two decades in Leesburg, Virginia, Susan and her husband moved back to her home in Manitowoc—the same one she grew up in— but she remains all in with the Journal , and we’re so grateful for that. n Concerns on New FSOT Process AFSA is concerned about fundamental changes announced in late April by the State Department to the FSO admissions process. The Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) has been a key component of the State Department’s intake system since the modern U.S. Foreign Service was created in 1924. Eliminating the requirement of passing the test without any consultation with AFSA or other employee groups goes against many commitments made by this administration to its public servants. AFSA has strongly sup- ported and publicly endorsed taking a comprehensive look at how the department’s Foreign Service chooses new members. AFSA believes that the status quo needs to be challenged and that reform is essential. But we remain concerned that these unilateral changes risk being seen as excessively subjective and subject to par- tisan influence. It is important to protect against potential future politicization of hiring through manipulation of a process that is now less easily explained. We urge fuller transpar- ency regarding hiring deci- sions made through this new system and further discus- sions with stakeholders on its implementation. n