2019 AAFSW Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad

Office of the Spokesperson

Five winners will receive the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) Secretary of State Award for Outstanding Volunteerism Abroad (SOSA) at a ceremony on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.

SOSA awards recognize U.S. government employees; family members, including domestic partners; and other members of the household at embassies and consulates who performed exceptional volunteer service to their communities, mission or host country, or rendered outstanding assistance in emergencies.  This year’s award winners are:

AF – Marcus W. Lamb -Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Marcus worked closely with a local organization, Apps and Girls, which promotes IT skill building for Tanzanian girls ages 14-24 who cannot continue their traditional education. After teaching two courses, Marcus recognized the need for a dedicated curriculum, and he developed an overarching program in cooperation with the organization’s instructors. He also found free resources to supplement teaching materials to enhance the new curriculum. Marcus went a step further and provided workshops on résumé building and interviewing skills, as well as an e-mentoring program, for which he sought out advice from female IT professionals within the Department of State and the private sector. With his example and encouragement, Marcus also inspired other embassy staff to volunteer.

EAP – Jennifer Yan – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

During her three years at the post, Jennifer actively pursued numerous activities to help the local community. She donated her time, goods and meals to local charities and non-profit organizations, including Feed the Hunger and New Hope for Cambodian Children, an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. Jennifer provided continuity and sustainability by ensuring that the embassy continued to work with these organizations after her departure. A dynamic member of the embassy community, Jennifer volunteered at many embassy events, including Breakfast with Santa, Eggstravaganza and welcome BBQs. She also oversaw the CLO library and administered the Facebook page for embassy families. Jennifer was an active parent volunteer at her children’s school, where she organized the American booth at the school fair.

EUR – Carlos D. Perez – Frankfurt, Germany

Carlos brought to Frankfurt a wealth of knowledge and understanding of post morale issues, following 23 years of Army service. He immediately found ways to support the consulate community based on family priorities he had learned in the Army. Carlos worked with T-Mobile to get a representative at the post during staff turnover periods to assist with cell phone setup. He took on an active role in the Community Support Association (CSA), reducing massive existing debt, reorganizing the budget, and trimming costs. Through the CSA, Carlos created a small business hub in an unused CSA building, providing a platform for Eligible Family Members (EFMs) and Locally Employed Staff to set up business opportunities, which included a nail salon, massage therapy, and barbershop. Carlos also established a partnership with Military Outsourcing to allow Foreign Service members to buy cars with that service. In his spare time, Carlos organized 5k runs, car washes, and youth sports events, volunteering 400 hours and raising $12,000 for his community. Carlos also helped create an international music publishing and management group, and he continues to inspire other EFMs through his success in the music industry.

NEA/SCA – Zhou “Cecilia” Zhuang-Haas – Rabat, Morocco

During her time in Rabat, Cecilia actively engaged with the local community. She volunteered with Enactus, a global organization that encourages students to take entrepreneurial actions to bring about socio-economic change in the host country. Cecilia mentored eight student teams, helping them identify areas for improvement and network with Moroccan government officials. One team received a grant for $5,500 from a U.S Foundation, which will help 180 families in rural Morocco gain access to renewable electricity. Cecilia also organized a 2019 Women’s Day event featuring 5 speakers and over 60 attendees. The speakers described ways to eliminate cultural and social obstacles to help women achieve their career goals and attain equal pay for equal work. Cecilia also promoted US-Morocco cultural ties through volunteer work with the American International Women’s Association of Rabat. In addition to this, she volunteered on a weekly basis at a migrant center serving displaced persons from elsewhere in Africa.

WHA – Claudia Felice-Kuebler – Quito, Ecuador 

Claudia’s desire to effect positive change and provide assistance in helping disenfranchised segments of the local community resulted in her joining forces with Pan de Vida, a local NGO.  She helped pioneer a program from inception to grant writing to execution that provides relief and hope to hundreds of distraught migrants. She also led a women’s mentoring program with a microbusiness focus providing revolving micro-loans; on a weekly basis, 50-60 families receive training.  Among many other contributions, Claudia also served as Communications Manager at Pan de Vida and has streamlined the organization’s communications strategy, updated new materials, raised funds, developed promotional videos, updated the website, and worked with artisans to create new jewelry for sale benefiting Pan de Vida.

For more information about the award, please visit: http://www.aafsw.org/services/sosa

The award ceremony is open for press coverage. Members of the press wishing to attend should contact Public Affairs Specialist Brenda Greenberg at GreenbergBL2@state.gov or 202-647-1679.

Pre-set time for video cameras: 10:00 a.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance Lobby. Final access time for writers and still photographers: 10:45 a.m. from the 23rd Street Entrance Lobby.

Media representatives may attend this award ceremony upon presentation of one of the following: (1) a U.S. government-issued identification card (Department of State, White House, Congress, Department of Defense, or Foreign Press Center), (2) a media-issued photo identification card, or (3) a letter from the requester’s employer on letterhead verifying his/her employment status as a journalist, accompanied by an official photo identification (driver’s license or passport). Those who do not have a State Department building pass should allow adequate time for security processing at the 23rd Street entrance.