State’s Foreign Service Association: A call for constructive dissent

The State Department’s leading edge employees—those in the Foreign Service—continue to honor a strong tradition of independent analysis and self-assessment on-the-job regarding how well and effectively they and the agency are pursuing their mission. 

At the heart of that tradition, the American Foreign Service Association this week put out a call for nominations for awards conferred each year to those among their members judged to be pressing on with this tradition most fruitfully in the opinion of their peers—the AFSA Constructive Dissent Awards. 

“Here at AFSA, we take great pride in our constructive dissent awards program, which will celebrate a milestone 50th anniversary in 2018,” this year’s official announcement, on the AFSA website, said. “These awards are unique within the federal government, and the Foreign Service is similarly singular in valuing such dissent and fostering an environment in which dissenting views and not only welcomed but encouraged.” 

“The Foreign Service deploys worldwide—to protect and serve, yes, but also to understand the local context and call it like we see it,” the announcement continued. “Sometimes Washington wants us to deliver something we know is not achievable in that context. Sometimes we know that even trying would cause a backlash and impede achievement of other goals. It is our obligation to point that out, to offer our best judgment and, when possible, alternatives. This is the basis for constructive dissent as we have traditionally defined it.” 

There is, the association said, an obligation to “speak up.” 

“We all know colleagues who have stepped up and made us proud by offering alternatives or new thinking,” the announcement said. “These are the individuals we want to honor for their courage and creativity. We need your help: Please take the time to nominate these deserving friends and colleagues.” 

To offer nominations, and to read about the different categories of awards go to:

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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