The Foreign Service Journal, September 2015

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2015 63 AFSA NEWS Creating Momentum for Change from the Consular Front Lines THE W. AVERELL HARRIMAN AWARD FOR AN ENTRY-LEVEL FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER AMEL I A SHAW Newly minted Foreign Service Officer Amelia Shaw enthusiastically accepted the miniature flag of Mexico at her February 2014 Flag Day ceremony. She was headed to Tijuana to do consular work, and, as it turns out, stir things up—in a good way. Within four short months, Shaw would be the driving force behind an action memo sent from the Bureau of Con- sular Affairs to the Bureau of Legislative Affairs request- ing help to amend a law that places more stringent requirements on unmarried women for transmitting their American citizenship to their foreign-born children than it does on men or married women. With that sort of effi- ciency, Shaw makes con- structive dissent look easy. However, that perception dis- counts the countless hours of information gathering and coalition building she poured into prompting a discussion on the 1980s-era law. Anyone familiar with the department’s clearance system knows that it takes tremendous oomph to push one’s idea—particularly so that it remains intact— through multiple layers of management. Shaw is this year’s W. Averell Harriman Award recipient for construc- tive dissent at the entry level for having done just that. Her quest to amend the discriminatory law is a testament to her work ethic. Colleagues describe Shaw as compassionate, a work- horse—capable of doing the work of three FSOs—innova- tive, full of new ideas, with a drive to see projects through. As Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, presenting Shaw with the AFSA award for dissent, said: “It takes real courage to speak up and go against the crowd. But to do this as a brand new officer in the Foreign Service, to stand up and say, ‘I’m new here, but this doesn’t seem quite right,’ that’s particularly commend- able.” Shaw’s passion was evident dur- ing the awards ceremony. With a trembling voice, she described the overwhelm- ing emotion she felt when she understood that her actions—and those of her colleagues—had created momen- tum on this issue beyond Mission Mexico: “Our American citizen services section in the consulate in Tijuana stood up, and we were cheering, we were clapping, we were fist- pumping. It was amazing!” Having authored an article on the law in The Foreign Service Journal in April (See “Citizenship and Unwed Bor- der Moms: The Misfortune of Geography”) and another for this issue reflecting on her own constructive dissent (see page 33) , Shaw contin- ues to push for justice: “Now that AFSA has thrown its spotlight on this issue, per- haps we are one step closer to seeing change in that law.” Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Shaw was a Fulbright fellow in Haiti and a foreign correspondent for NPR and the BBC. Shaw speaks seven languages and has two chil- dren. n FSOAmelia Shaw with Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell in the State Department’s C Street Lobby. AFSA/JOAQUINSOSA Shaw (right) with Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy moments after learning her first FS post would be Consulate General Tijuana. COURTESYOFAMELIASHAW AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS