The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L 5 They do for AFSA, at least. In August 1975 outgoing AFSA President Tom Boyatt wrote his farewell column for the Journal . Much of what he wrote then is still true – only some names have changed. He wrote, for example, “The Washington environment [for the Foreign Service] is not friendly. Most of us, concerned with policy and operation problems overseas, assume that the Washington scene is reasonably benign. Not true.” He then described how the “Ribbon- Clerk Conspiracy” of budgeters from OMB, CSC (nowOPM), GAO and the department itself so often interprets law and writes regulations at the pro- fessional and personal expense of Foreign Service people. None of that has changed in 30 years. What has changed regularly are the people of AFSA. The current Governing Board and officers will leave office in a few weeks. A few members will remain on the board for another term, but most will go to other work and assignments. As people in the Middle East often say in these cir- cumstances, “Please forgive us the bad things we did.” This change is as it should be. AFSA is blessed with a dedicated and talented professional staff. It has been an honor to work with Executive Director Susan Reardon, Journal Editor Steve Honley, General Counsel Sharon Papp, Legislative Affairs Director Ken Nakamura, Communi- cations Director Tom Switzer, and many others who bring so much skill and experience to our organization. This group will stay with AFSA. Like our skilled FSN and Civil Service col- leagues, they do the crucial work that makes the organization run. It has also been an honor to work with such an exciting group of col- leagues on the Governing Board, including Vice Presidents Louise Crane, Bill Carter, Chuck Ford, Laura Scandurra and George Jones. They and the other board members have brought collective centuries of experi- ence to our work. The perceptions of our non-State board members have been especially crucial to our success. I also thank those members, active- duty and retired, who generously volunteer to serve on our committees. I mention, in particular, Chairman Hollis Summers and all members of the Editorial Board; Andrew Winter, Tom Boyatt and their colleagues on the Finance Committee; and Bruce Laingen and the other members of the Awards Committee. Their generosity has been invaluable. What makes AFSA strong is no secret. It is the same qualities that make the Foreign Service strong. There is the community spirit that motivates our volunteers; the talents and integrity of our permanent staff; and the pride in profession of our offi- cers and board members, both active- duty and retired. At AFSA, like at any post, person- nel change frequently. Even at the “perfect post” employees and their families must depart. Similarly, as much as possible, our board members and officers should serve their two years with AFSA and move on. Their value to AFSA comes from contact with posts and bureaus and their prob- lems. We are fortunate, for example, that incoming president Tony Holmes is a chief of mission at an isolated hardship post (Ouagadougou). He will bring to AFSA fresh experience with the realities of our Foreign Service world. One last thought. Our organiza- tion, lacking any leadership caste, is only as good as we are. We will suc- ceed as long as our members support us. If you disagree with how we are leading the association, then speak up. If you are in Washington, be a Governing Board member or officer; if you’re overseas, be an AFSA rep. Wherever you are, write for the Journal ; contact your president or your constituency vice president. If you disagree with a committee’s deci- sion, then serve on that committee. We need you. You make the differ- ence.  P RESIDENT ’ S F AREWELL V IEWS The More Things Change, the Better They Get B Y J OHN L IMBERT John Limbert is the president of the American Foreign Service Association. What makes AFSA strong is no secret. It is the same qualities that make the Foreign Service strong.