Thank you so much, Lesley. I think everyone here would agree that if it weren't for your tenacity and vision - and your stubbornness! - we wouldn't be here today celebrating 30 years of FLO's advocacy, programs and services - thank you, Mother FLO!
I would also like to thank Under Secretary Kennedy for his kind remarks and his continued support.
Our host for today's event, Director General Harry K. Thomas could not be here, but I wanted to thank Ambassador Thomas for his strong support of FLO programs and initiatives that help families.
I'd also like to thank the Cox Foundation for the support it has given to FLO over the years, funding innovative pilot programs that give us the opportunity to test initiatives before trying to institutionalize them. We are especially grateful for the support they have given us by funding today's event.
I am extremely honored to be here on this historic occasion, representing the hard work, passion, and commitment of so many FLO staff who have come before me - many of whom are here today. The talented and dedicated FLO staff have accomplished much in the past 30 years. In 1978, FLO opened its door with a staff of two and a half people. Today, we have an office of 17 people.
Since the beginning, FLO has worked hard to advocate, create programs and services, and help our clients empower themselves to effectively navigate the often challenging Foreign Service life.
As an advocacy organization, we know that our work is never really done. Issues change, concerns shift, even the definition of family changes. And over the years, FLO has always been ready to respond. We have continually asked ourselves: What can we do better, faster, and more effectively? How can we be more inclusive? And more recently, we have added the question "how can we use technology to help our clients get the information they need?"
There is much that FLO already does, but many people are still unaware of all that we offer, so we will be reaching out in different ways, through our website, with our newsletters, and using technology more to let people know about the resources and services already available to them.
We want to continue to be innovative about what kinds of services and programs we offer and who we serve. For example, we recently completed the first-ever survey of single employees, and we plan to use the results of the survey to better address their needs. We are also trying to better address the needs of Members of Household, to the extent permissible by law.
I would like to take just few minutes to highlight some of our recent work that is also the foundation for what we will do in the future.
Family Member Employment has always been one of the top issues for Foreign Service families, and continues to be a priority for FLO. We now have 109 Bilateral Work Agreements and 44 de facto work arrangements. Our successful Strategic Networking Assistance Program known as SNAP has been reformulated and expanded into the Global Employment Initiatives (GEI)/SNAP program, currently serving 72 posts locally, regionally and now even virtually.
FLO continues to advocate for improved and increased employment inside the mission as well as inside the Department. We also have initiatives that help family members take advantage of technology to establish teleworking arrangements and web-based businesses and to access on-line training courses.
In the area of Crisis Management and Support Services, we continue to provide support for post crises, including evacuations. We also provide information, resources and referrals for personal issues such as divorce, adoption, and elder care. In the area of Support Services, we are very proud of our new publications, including our two most recent ones on Adoption and "The Spouse and Partner Guide to the Foreign Service".
Recognizing the growing need to support the families of those separated by an Unaccompanied Tour, FLO established a position two years ago for an Unaccompanied Tours Support Officer, and thanks to strong support in the Department, are about to establish another position.
Many of you may be surprised to hear that over 1/3 of our spouses are foreign-born. Seven years ago, FLO established our Expeditious Naturalization program and we continue to provide assistance to this group.
In the area of Education and Youth, we have developed a DVD on a series of topics related to College Applications, which we hope to soon send to all of the Community Liaison Offices (CLOs) around the world.
And speaking of CLOs, FLO has always managed the worldwide CLO Program, and we now have 200 CLOs around the world. They still have essentially the same eight program areas as they had in the past. But the demands on CLOs have increased and the position has evolved.
There is a greater emphasis on security and contingency planning and on management. The CLOs have become increasingly more professional over the years, and FLO has responded with more professional training opportunities (now held predominantly overseas), better on-line resources, improved communication, and promoting the establishment of new CLO positions, particularly at unaccompanied posts.
And you may have noticed, FLO is changing its external image with a new logo. We wanted a logo that would be more modern and inclusive, representing our diverse client base, and that would also represent the fact that we are dynamic and energetic, constantly changing to meet the needs of the Foreign Service family. I would like to thank JWT, the company that designed our beautiful new logo. We think that the logo represents all that we wanted it to -- we hope that you agree!
There is much in our history of which we are very proud, but we don't want to rest on our laurels -- and there is much hard work ahead. With tremendous support from every level in the Department, FLO looks forward to those challenges, and to working with all of you to continue to meet the changing needs of our Foreign Service family.
Thank you all for being our partners and our supporters as we enter the future. And thank you for celebrating with us here today.
It now gives me great pleasure to introduce our Keynote speaker, the Deputy Secretary of State, John D. Negroponte.
During his long and distinguished career, Deputy Secretary Negroponte has served, among many other things, as the first Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Last February, he became our Deputy Secretary of State where he has dedicated himself to assisting the Secretary in the formulation and conduct of U.S. Foreign policy. Deputy Secretary Negroponte also spent over 30 years as a Career Foreign Service officer, serving at eight different overseas posts, three as Ambassador.
Deputy Secretary Negroponte and his wife Dr. Diana Negroponte have raised five children in the Foreign Service. So he knows first-hand the challenges and the opportunities Foreign Service families face in this highly mobile lifestyle. I don't think you will find anyone in the Department today who is as aware of or sympathetic to the day-to-day challenges Foreign Service families face. And we appreciate the special commitment he has made to FLO over the past 30 years.
I would be remiss if I didn't also point out that Diana Negroponte has provided tremendous support to FLO in several areas, particularly unaccompanied tours. She was not able to be here today, but I hope Deputy Secretary Negroponte will pass on our thanks to her! Without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in welcoming our Deputy Secretary of State.
Information provided by the Family Liaison Office
Contact the Family Liaison Office