Annual Homecoming

Celebrating champions of American diplomacy

Above: From left, Judy Ikels, Carol Z. Perez, director general of the foreign service and director of human resources and William R. Brownfield meet at the Foreign Affairs Day luncheon after the awards ceremony, May 3. Photo by Heidi Howland

By Amanda J. Richard

Vast knowledge, immeasurable wisdom and enduring camaraderie filled the Department of State’s Harry S. Truman building when hundreds of retired Foreign and civil service employees attended the 54th annual Foreign Affairs Day, May 3. Senior leaders gathered to welcome their past colleagues and friends and celebrate their contributions and selfless dedication to the Department’s mission. 

At the keynote address in the Dean Acheson Auditorium, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed everyone “home” and reflected on the years of combined experience displayed throughout the room. He spoke of the dedication that comes with the work of diplomacy and the importance in helping to shape our workforce for the future.

“I know that you, as career diplomats, share a passion for public service, and that did not end on the day that you retired,” said Pompeo. “You’re out there helping younger diplomats be better, finding new ways to strengthen our community, advocating for what is, indeed, the finest diplomatic corps that the planet has ever known.”

Pompeo also brought attendees up to speed on the activities and mission of his past year as Secretary of State, speaking of the importance of family members, communication and positioning the team for success in the years to come. 

“I hope my team and I are making you all proud in what we’re trying to accomplish here. So many of you gave your adult lives to this mission, and the best way that I can honor that is to make sure that the State Department is able to win the mission every day for years to come.”

Two award ceremonies were held honoring three exceptional retired employees for their service. The highest honor of the Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired (DACOR) Bacon House, the Foreign Service Cup, is annually presented to a retired Foreign Service officer who has had a distinguished career and has made significant post-retirement contributions to the broad field encompassed by the term “foreign affairs.” DACOR President James Benson presented the 2019 award to Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who served seven diplomatic postings abroad and three tours in the Department. 

A luncheon hosted by the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (DG) Carol Z. Perez included remarks by guest speaker and former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon Jr. Perez then awarded the DG Civil Service Cup to Judy Ikels, a 28-year veteran of the Department. The next award, the DG Foreign Service Cup, was presented to Ambassador William Brownfield, a former assistant secretary of state and former ambassador to Colombia, Venezuela and Chile.

Seminars held throughout the day enabled attendees to catch up with current happenings around the Department. Attendees were also given the opportunity to visit a variety of volunteer information tables sponsored by various Foreign Service organizations, as well as the Family Liaison Office and the Office of Retirement in the Bureau of Human Resources. The day concluded with a memorial ceremony sponsored by the American Foreign Service Association that honored colleagues who lost their lives in service to America. 

This annual celebration came on the heels of Secretary Pompeo’s announcement of the Department’s new Professional Ethos and was a true testament to the values espoused in the Ethos statement: “And I show unstinting respect in word and deed for my colleagues and all who serve alongside me.”

Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein (2019 Foreign Service Cup)

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Jacques Paul Klein served seven diplomatic postings abroad and three tours in the Department. A retired U.S. Air Force Major General, Klein also served as head of three United Nations peacekeeping missions. In 2005-2006, he shared his knowledge and experience of public and international affairs as a Frederick Schultz Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University. In retirement, Klein continues to share his passion as a lecturer, writer and international consultant on foreign affairs. His leadership, knowledge and dedication are recognized through the 2019 Foreign Service Cup award.

Judy Ikels (Director General’s Civil Service Cup)

Judy Ikels led a distinguished 28-year career with the Department which included two years as community liaison office coordinator in Rio de Janeiro and four years as a trainer at the Foreign Service Institute. She worked as the employment program coordinator and deputy director in the Family Liaison Office and became division chief for Work Life in the Office of Employee Relations in 2009. Throughout her career, Ikels managed a broad portfolio developing policy and implementing programs surrounding work-life wellness, family member appointments and employee leave programs. Her advocacy and support for these programs created lasting change, including the implementation of the Department’s first “leave bank” which is now managed by HR and helps employees avoid financial hardship during unexpected extended leave scenarios. Her passion and leadership are recognized through the 2019 Director General’s Civil Service Cup award.

Ambassador William R. Brownfield (Director General’s Foreign Service Cup)

A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, William R. Brownfield previously served as ambassador to Chile, Venezuela and Colombia. Among his career, Brownfield supported an enormous range of military, security, law enforcement, economic and humanitarian programs. In Colombia, he ran an embassy with 4,000 employees and a $1 billion budget. In Venezuela, he led an embassy in constant crisis, and in Chile, he managed a sophisticated relationship with a mature and stable government leading to the first U.S. free trade agreement in Latin America since the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. During his final seven years at the Department, Brownfield served as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. His intellect, dedication and leadership are recognized through the 2019 Director General’s Foreign Service Cup. 

Amanda J. Richard is the multimedia editor at State Magazine. 

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