Career diversity, hardship posts and courageous women.
Although he has been Director General for little more than a year, Ambassador George Staples has made many crucial and often difficult decisions on staffing hardship posts in an increasingly dangerous world. With the median hardship differential at a startling 15 percent, the Department has to fill each year between 500 to 700 unaccompanied or limited accompanied positions. In an exclusive State Magazine Inner-View, he explains the extensive changes the Department made to the Foreign Service assignments process and the reasons those changes had to be made.
On the Civil Service side, the Director General launched a pilot program this year that will give CS colleagues a taste of professional diversity in their careers. Under the guidance of the Office of Civil Service Personnel's career development division, seven GS-12 and GS-13 employees joined the Civil Service Mid-Level Rotational Program in February and went from their regular jobs to other agencies and year-long developmental assignments with duties specific to Foreign Affairs officers or their equivalents.
Long championed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Linda Taglialatela, the pilot program will test the feasibility of offering Civil Service employees career mobility opportunities similar to those available to their Foreign Service colleagues.
Technology can be a boon to those willing to use it, and the public diplomacy professionals at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs have turned the Internet into a unique PD tool. Through its Global Connections and Exchange program, ECA provides virtual linkages between teens and educators in the United States with more than 1,000 schools worldwide, including schools in hard-to-reach Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. Participants deal with real issues; students in New York City and Egypt, for example, collaborated on the "Two Rivers One World Project" in which they tested water content of the Hudson and Nile rivers and discussed water supply and pollution with scientists and teachers.
Courage is where you find it, and on March 7 Secretary Rice honored 10 extraordinarily courageous women with the first annual Award for International Women of Courage. Administered by the Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women's Issues, the award recognizes women from around the world who have shown exceptional courage and leadership.
Last but never least, a final salute to our colleagues en route to their final posting: Paul Claussen; William Walton Duffy II; Beverly S. Gerstein; Esther Rykken Holland; Ihsan Leila Mogannam; Reynold A. Riemer; Elliott Percival Skinner; and Ernest Guest Wiener.