The Foreign Service Journal, December 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | DECEMBER 2023 65 AFSA NEWS for Constructive Dissent by a mid-level officer. The 2023 award went to Alexander Douglas for his courage in the aftermath of a a violent attack on a colleague in Muscat and his unwavering commitment to accountability and security improvement in the weeks after the attack. Douglas shared his experience, saying that being intimidated and told to stand down by senior leaders “shook my faith in the State Department—an institution that had until then nurtured me, supported me, and empowered me.” But, he continued, “the situation challenged me to develop a clearer sense of my purpose. With time I’ve recovered my enthusiasm for serving in the department— not because the department has always done the right thing, but because of the department’s promise and noble purpose.” The W. Averell Harriman Award for Constructive Dissent by an entry-level officer went to Christophe Triplett, who pushed for equal treatment of locally employed (LE) staff in same-sex relationships in Amman and ended up changing mission policies around the world, helping countless staff and family members. In his speech, Mr. Triplett remarked on “the steadfast determination, dedication, and enthusiasm of those who believed in this cause and extended themselves to help bring about this change.” “I spent many long nights and used a considerable amount of their time discussing this issue,” he went on. “To these individuals, I extend my deepest gratitude for not only embracing this issue but also for working tirelessly behind the scenes. Their efforts helped transform a local challenge in Jordan into a catalyst for broader change in State Department policy.” Awards for Exemplary Performance AFSA offers six awards in recognition of exemplary performance and extraordinary contributions to effectiveness, professionalism, morale, and the advancement of democracy. The Nelson B. Delavan Award is conferred on a Foreign Service office management specialist (OMS) who has made a significant contribution in post or office effectiveness and morale beyond the framework of their job responsibilities. The award was presented by Mark Delavan Harrop. Katie Leis is the recipient of this year’s Delavan Award for her significant contributions to strengthening embassy security services and advancing broader mission goals in Phnom Penh. She was unable to attend the event, but her sister Rachel Brucas offered remarks on her behalf. The M. Juanita Guess Award, presented by Jon Clements in honor of his late mother, for whom the award is named, recognizes the work of a community liaison office coordinator (CLO) who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, dedication, initiative, or imagination in assisting the families of Americans serving at an overseas post. This year’s Guess Award winner, Erin Cederlind, was lauded for her near-roundthe-clock work to welcome evacuees from Khartoum, along with her energy and initiative in organizing community events for Embassy Djibouti. The Mark Palmer Award for the Advancement of Democracy is open to all Foreign Service members from any of the foreign affairs agencies, especially early- to mid-career level, who promoted American policies focused on advancing democracy, freedom, and governance through bold, exemplary, imaginative, and effective efforts. The award was named in honor of the late Ambassador Mark Palmer, known for his lifelong passion for promoting democracy and human rights. It was presented by his niece, Rohani Mahyera. Two recipients were selected this year: David Burnstein, whose focus on supporting jailed Russian opposition leaders ultimately contributed to the Russian government’s decision to expel him from Russia; and Marina Grayson, for her work to fight corruption and counter malign Russian influence in Bulgaria. “I have no illusions that the road ahead for Bulgaria is easy,” Ms. Grayson said when receiving her award. “The work of rooting out corruption, creating strong institutions, and changing deeply entrenched mindsets takes time—indeed, it may take generations. But I believe the process that started this year in Bulgaria will not be turned back, and I am immensely proud and honored to have played a small part.” The Avis Bohlen Award honors the accomplishments of a Foreign Service family member whose relations with the American and local communities at post have done the most to advance the interests of the United States. The award was established by Pamela Harriman in 1982. This year, Foreign Service AFSA State VP Tina Wong presents AFSA Post Representative of the Year Award to co-winner Felix Peng on Oct. 5. AFSA/CALEB SCHLABACH