Thank you, Leslie, for the kind introduction. I am happy and proud to be here today to be a part of the Department's celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the Family Liaison Office. It is a particular honor since as a very junior staff officer 30 years ago, I was, to cite former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, present at the creation of the Family Liaison Office. But I can claim no credit for the exceptional vision that came to fruition then as a dedicated ensemble of people, some who are here today, launched an effort that has played such an important role in the lives of so many employees and their families.
Over the past 30 years, the Family Liaison Office has made the lives of everyone in the Foreign Service a little easier. It has assisted family members in so many ways. But it has also assisted singles; and it has benefited post management in providing an essential structure that greatly enabled them to begin addressing the very real concerns that were sadly here-to-fore not dealt with.
FLO has been at the forefront of so many important initiatives including: vastly improved employment opportunities for family members; the very important Family Member Appointment; legislative changes to regulations affecting educational travel; equity for divorcing spouses; programs and services for families with special needs children; support service to evacuees; the establishment and management of the world wide Community Liaison office program; the expeditious naturalization portfolio; and support for those experiencing unaccompanied tours to name just a few.
Thirty years ago, the founders of FLO embraced the challenges then facing the Foreign Service family with creativity and perseverance. They found ways to integrate family member programs, services, and policies into State Department and other agencies' operations. The challenges facing the Foreign Service today have changed somewhat over the years. Family member employment is still a pressing concern but security in an increasingly dangerous world and the very real possibility of an unaccompanied tour for many families are the issues that concern many Foreign Service employees and families today.
Many past initiatives have laid the foundation for current and future programs. For example, I have tasked a committee to develop a new family member employment program, and FLO has been working closely with that committee to establish a program that will further utilize the highly skilled talent pool of family members. A new position has been authorized in FLO to provide additional support to the families of those serving on an unaccompanied tour.
FLO continues to face these challenges with advocacy, programs, and services that meet the needs of a diverse and changing client base. FLO implements the Department's policies and services that support many employees and their families. I know that FLO will continue to be the driving force taking care of the State Department family well into the future.
On this important anniversary, I want thank FLO for the enormous contribution they have made to the Department of State. And now it gives me great pleasure to introduce someone who is known, for good reason, to many as "Mother FLO."
In 1977, the Association of American Foreign Service Women (AAFSW) - now known as the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide - made a simple but, at that time, radical recommendation in their Forum Report on the Concerns of Foreign Service Spouses and Families. They wanted an office in the Department that could disseminate information to family members and communicate the views and needs of families to the foreign affairs agencies, especially on policy matters and planning affecting their welfare.
The work of the AAFSW Forum Committee - which went on to convince Senior Department management and Members of Congress of the necessity of this office - was spearheaded by then AAFSW President Lesley Dorman. And the rest, as they say, is history. Ladies and gentleman, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome Lesley Dorman.
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