The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2017 47 FOCUS ON EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE & CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT Lack of fairness and transparency in the assignment restrictions process undercuts both employees and the State Department. Asian-American employees took it on. In Pursuit of Transparency in Assignment Restriction Policies F or many years State Department employees from particular ethnic backgrounds have faced barriers to particular assignments. The process has precluded some Foreign Service and Civil Service employees from serving in certain posts overseas or taking up some domestic positions and even short-term, overseas temporary duty assignments based on their ethnicity. The assignment restrictions issue has been a long-standing one for Asian Americans at the department. The Asian-Pacific American Foreign Affairs Council was founded in 1981 to sup- port equal employment opportunity for Asian American and BY CHR I ST I NA T. L E AND THOMAS T. WONG Christina T. Le is a career Foreign Service officer currently in long-term language training for her next assignment, to Japan. She has previously served in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, on the Philippines desk in the Bureau of East Asian & Pacific Affairs, and overseas in Greece and Mexico. Thomas T. Wong is a Foreign Service officer assigned to the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. His previous postings include Guadalajara and consecutive tours in Washington in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 2010, Mr. Wong served in the U.S. Army. His wife, Suzanne Wong, is also a Foreign Service officer and they have two children. Christina Le andThomas Wong are the current and past presidents of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association, respectively. The views expressed in this article are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of State or U.S. government. Le, Wong and their colleagues Mariju L. Bofill and Cecilia S. Choi received this year’s WilliamR. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Level Officer. Pacific Islander officers. Renamed the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association in 2007, the association supports the equal employment opportunity mission of the foreign affairs agen- cies and supports the career advancement of AAPI employees by organizing and hosting career development and leadership seminars, and utilizing the experience and skills of high- ranking officials to impart knowledge on the next generation of AAPI leaders. Today, AAFAA is an association of some 750 Civil Service and Foreign Service officers, specialists, fellows, contractors, interns and retirees, with the mission to improve recruitment, outreach and professional development of AAPI officers at the State Department.