The Foreign Service Journal, September 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2020 67 AFSA NEWS AFSA NEWS THE OFFICIAL RECORD OF THE AMERICAN FOREIGN SERVICE ASSOCIATION Due to the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, please check www.afsa. org for the most up-to-date information. All events are subject to cancellation and/or rescheduling. September 7 Labor Day: AFSA Offices Closed September 16 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting September 18: CANCELED Fifth Annual Foreign Service Night at Nationals Park September 22 1-2 p.m. Virtual Panel “Foreign Service on the Front Lines: Bringing Americans Home” Co-hosted with National Museum of American Diplomacy October 14 4-6 p.m. Tentative: Annual AFSA Awards Ceremony October 19 Columbus Day: AFSA Offices Closed October 21 12-2 p.m. AFSA Governing Board Meeting CALENDAR Continued on page 78 AFSA Hosts Town Hall Series on COVID-19, Diversity With the goal of addressing member concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and diver- sity issues, AFSA held a series of five virtual town hall meet- ings in late June and early July. Following are excerpts of AFSA President Eric Rubin’s remarks during the meetings. I wanted to reach out to you today to let you know that AFSA is with you as you are dealing with so much uncer- tainty and so many unsettling developments in your Foreign Service lives at this moment. Our nation is in an unprecedented situation. The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted all our lives, both personally and profes- sionally. And now, we bear wit- ness to the understandable sadness and rage over yet more unnecessary deaths of African Americans—George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and so many others. As American diplomats, it is our job to explain America to the world. We have always pointed to our story as being worthy of emulation. But in these times, we have been forcefully reminded that we still have a long way to go as a nation. Where AFSA Stands on Racism and Discrimination We have heard frommany within the Foreign Service community about their own experiences with discrimina- tion and systemic racism, both within and outside of our agencies. AFSA’s history on these issues is checkered. However, we have done much better in recent years to advocate for the Foreign Service Act’s mandate for “entry into and advancement in the Foreign Service by persons from all segments of American society.” Today AFSA is strongly devoted to equality and diver- sity in all aspects. We push the management of all foreign affairs agencies to do more and to do better. We have worked to address unconscious bias and will continue to raise the issue, especially when it comes to bidding. We have strong and long-standing relationships with minority employee affin- ity groups. We have recommended to State management that “inclusion promotion” be part of the Employee Evaluation Report core precepts, which will be renegotiated with AFSA in 2021. I am proud of this work and we will make sure AFSA helps push our agencies toward a more representative Foreign Service, especially at the senior levels. We are concerned about what we are hearing of res- ignations of Foreign Service members who did not think it was worth staying in. If you are discouraged, please reach out to us. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly, please let us know. We don’t want Foreign Service talent to walk out the door if we can do something to stop it. AFSA’s Current Priorities: COVID- related Concerns More than 1,800 of you responded to AFSA’s recent survey on agency and post action regarding the COVID- 19 pandemic. In addition, we have heard frommembers directly in our structured conversations and in emails you have sent to us on issues related to the pandemic. Your concerns in the survey focused overwhelmingly on We have recommended to State management that “inclusion promotion” be part of the Employee Evaluation Report core precepts, which will be renegotiated with AFSA in 2021. —AFSA President Eric Rubin