The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

78 SEPTEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL AFSA NEWS Increasing Transparency and Accountability in Assignment Restrictions The issue of assignment restrictions and advocacy for a more transparent and equitable process has long been a priority for the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association. This is reflected in the fact that not one, but four former and current presidents of the AAFAA were honored with the Rivkin Award for Constructive Dis- sent by a Mid-Level Foreign Service Officer. The AAFAA presidents argued that the assignment restrictions process did not have sufficient transparency, accountability and oversight, and was based on ill-defined concerns regarding foreign influence or preference. They also noted that employees of Asian American dissent were disproportion- ally affected by such restric- tions, leading to a perception of mistrust and a bias (con- scious or otherwise) against Asian American colleagues. The disparate treatment diverted careers and led some to resign in disillusion- ment and frustration. Assignment restrictions also hindered the depart- ment’s efforts to utilize its diverse workforce, and denied employees the opportunity to apply their language and cultural skills to the depart- ment’s benefit. AFSA CONSTRUCT I VE D I SSENT AWARDS WILLIAM R. RIVKIN AWARD FOR CONSTRUCTIVE DISSENT BY A MID-LEVEL OFFICER MARI JU BOF I LL , CECI L IA CHOI , THOMAS WONG AND CHRISTINA LE Mariju Bofill first raised the issue with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009. The longest-serving president of AAFAA, Ms. Bofill oversaw a 300-percent increase in the association’s membership, and increased representa- tion for Asian American and Pacific Islander employees. During her 2012-2013 term as AAFAA president, Cecilia Choi worked with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to try to come to a fair solution on assignment restrictions. Thomas Wong (president of AAFAA for two terms, 2014-2016) presented a white paper to the Deputy Sec- retary of State in 2015 and, with current AAFAA president Christina Le, worked with the Bureau of Diplomatic Secu- rity and AFSA to negotiate the language for an appeals mechanism. Ms. Le continued to raise the matter with the Deputy Secretary throughout 2016. She also brought the matter to AFSA President Barbara Stephenson and met fre- quently with State Vice Presi- dent Angie Bryan (and VP Matthew Asada before that), as well as with AFSA Labor Management Counselor Colleen Fallon-Lenaghan to discuss the status of the process. Former AAFAA presidents (left to right) Mariju Bofill, Cecilia Choi and Thomas Wong, with current president Christina Le (far right) at the AFSA Awards ceremony. AFSA/TOYASOBINJORDAN