The Foreign Service Journal, September 2017

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2017 9 glasnost and perestroika reform effort that saw improved relations with the United States, along with historic U.S.-Soviet summits and nuclear arms control agree- ments. This experience showed me the value of diplomacy. It also introduced me to the extraordinary individuals of the U.S. Foreign Service who practice it, no matter the conditions or hardship. These diplomats, some of the smartest people I’d ever met, were determined to understand the truth of the situation on the ground, to share that with Washing- ton and to help develop, refine and sup- port the administration’s policies. They served faithfully and effectively, without fanfare or bluster or the expecta- tion of winning a prize. And as a result, relationships were fostered, understand- ing was gained, and diplomacy worked. Similarly today, in the face of Vladimir Putin’s order that Embassy Moscow and the U.S. consulates reduce staff by 755, the embassy team will continue doing the diplomacy it’s there to do, no matter what. The Foreign Service is quite accus- tomed to “doing more with less,” but sometimes such challenges go to the bone. Current conditions in Washing- ton—the hiring freeze, departmental reorganization (oddly called the “rede- sign”) and proposed 30 percent budget cuts for State and USAID—present such a challenge. The hiring freeze, in particular, has left many scratching their heads wondering “to what end?” While limited hiring has LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Stories of Excellence BY SHAWN DORMAN T hirty years ago, fresh out of Cornell with a double major in Soviet studies and government, I headed over to Moscow. I was going to fill one of the many jobs vacated when the Soviets pulled all the Russian staff out of the embassy in the wake of the Lonetree spy scandal. The Americans working for the U.S. diplomatic mission in the USSR had to pick up all the work that had been done by local staff, including the jobs of drivers, nannies, laborers, clerks. I signed on as a nanny for a U.S. diplo- matic family. With a Top Secret clear- ance from having served as an intern on the Soviet Desk at State, I was quickly recruited to also help out in a stretched political section. The political section was in a cramped, crumbling, internal part of the “old” chancery—the new one standing empty since listening devices had been discovered embedded inside the walls. Security restrictions in place dictated that American diplomats could not meet with Russians alone, so I got to tag along with political officers to fascinating meetings with dissidents and other contacts. While harassment and surveil- lance of U.S. diplomats was ongoing, this was also 1987, the early days of Mikhail Gorbachev’s Shawn Dorman is the editor of The Foreign Service Journal. resumed, the disruption continues. To follow our July-August article, “How the Hiring Freeze Is Affecting Fam- ily Member Employment,” we reached out to the FS community for feedback from the field. We heard from dozens of employees and family members: You’ll find a compilation of messages in Letters- Plus, and the full set of responses on our website. Through the disruptions of unfilled positions and department “redesign,” it is appropriate to remind ourselves—and fellow Americans—of diplomacy’s criti- cal role in national security and the vital work of the U.S. Foreign Service. This month we focus on excellence. We spotlight many outstanding members of the Foreign Service by sharing the stories of this year’s AFSA award winners. These awards honor FS members who make a difference—through exemplary performance or constructive dissent, by promoting democracy, by support- ing their local community and through a lifetime of contributions to American diplomacy. In these pages we salute Ambassador Nancy Powell, recipient of AFSA’s Life- time Contributions to American Diplo- macy Award; constructive dissent award winners Elzar Camper, Wendy Brafman, Mariju Bofill, Cecilia Choi, Thomas Wong and Christina Le; Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy recipients René Gutel and Ambassador Tulinabo Mushingi; and exemplary per- formance award winners Diane Corbin, Aubrey Dowd, Henry Throop and John Wood. n