The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2018

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JULY-AUGUST 2018 81 AFSA NEWS Leveling the Playing Field for U.S. Businesses On May 18 AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Ste- phenson joined an expert panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on “The Business Case for Fighting Corruption. ” Other panelists included Laura Lane, a former Foreign Service officer and current president of global affairs at UPS; Kendra Gaither, also a former Foreign Service officer and currently the senior policy director of the Americas program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Nancy Boswell of the American University Washington College of Law; theWorld Bank’s Stephen Zimmermann; and Daniel Runde, chair and director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS. Panelists discussed the rationale behind U.S. gov- ernment work to combat corruption and support the rule of law. They debated the best ways to level the playing field for U.S. companies operat- ing overseas, allow- ing them to stay competitive while complying with both international standards and U.S. regulations. Amb. Stephenson told the crowd of more than 100 about the role Foreign Service offi- cers play in promoting Ameri- can businesses overseas, from fighting to protect intellectual property to helping foreign governments implement their own plans to improve legal frameworks to attract invest- ment. Our embassies problem- solve for U.S. companies overseas, Amb. Ste- phenson explained. “Sometimes air- port slots get taken away, sometimes shipments get held up at the port or airport. Some- times an American company has made a big capital invest- ment and, after a change of government, faces enormous pressure. Embas- sies need enough staff to be available to those businesses to hear them out—and to cultivate the relationships that can focus attention on the unfair treatment the compa- nies are facing. Our econ sec- tions need to be restored.” n Panelist and former FSO Kendra Gaither. AFSA President Amb. Barbara Stephenson responds to an audience question. Nancy Boswell is to her left. AFSA/LINNEAGAVRILIS AFSA/LINNEAGAVRILIS AFSAWelcomes Members to New Online Community In June, AFSA transitioned to a new platform to host its online community for mem- bers. After detailed research, we chose Yahoo as the new platform because, first and foremost, many members of the Foreign Service are familiar with using Yahoo groups from other online com- munities, including Livelines (hosted by the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide). Additionally, the Yahoo platform has functionality and features similar to the previous Open Forum, includ- ing an easy-to-use interface that allows users to follow ongoing discussions, receive a daily digest of all new posts and easily create posts of their own. Users are able to choose to respond directly to the sender of an email or to add to the public discus- sion. And, finally, the Yahoo platform is free, whereas our previous platform was costly. AFSAwill make ongoing efforts to alert members to the creation of this online commu- nity to ensure that members are aware of it and are able to join. Our goal is to make the Foreign Service Online Com- munity a dynamic platform serving all AFSAmembers who want to participate. Our online community is what we make of it. AFSA is committed to providing an online space where members can get in touch with each other to share ideas, inter- esting articles, professional insights, retirement questions and tips, or any other related content that is constructive and of general interest. Have you read the latest think tank report or Foreign Service Journal article on the state of diplomacy? You can share your perspective. Travelling to Istanbul? Post on the site and potentially get in touch with colleagues for local recom- mendations or a chance to meet for coffee. The Foreign Service community is unique in its shared identity, experi- ences and richness.We hope that our online community will reinforce and sustain our professional bonds. Please visit community for more informa- tion on how to join and par- ticipate in the Foreign Service Online Community. n