The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) M. Juanita Guess Award

Sponsored by Clements Worldwide

AFSA's M. Juanita Guess Award winner receives recognition from Jon Clements.

The M. Juanita Guess Award is given annually to one U.S. Foreign Service Community Liaison Officer (CLO) in recognition of outstanding service to others, embodying the best of Americans abroad.

CLOs are responsible for providing support necessary to maintain the morale of U.S. government employees and family members on assignments abroad. Their duties can include crisis management, information and resource management, guidance and referrals, orientation, event planning, and acting as liaison for education, employment, community, and security matters.

The award was named after Clements’ co-founder and former president M. Juanita Guess who was a member of the Foreign Service herself, working as an admin in the 1940s. She had profound admiration for the Foreign Service mission and instilled that deep respect in her son and current Clements Worldwide Chairman, Jon Clements. Since 1995, Jon has presented the award every year as a gesture of appreciation and support for the Foreign Service mission.

The M. Juanita Guess Award is one of several that Clements Worldwide gives or sponsors each year to honor U.S. Foreign Service Members and inspire young people to pursue a path of cultural diplomacy and service.

2022 Award Winner

Christine Peterson

Congratulations to Christine Peterson, the 2022 recipient of the American Foreign Service Association’s (AFSA) M. Juanita Guess Award for her outstanding contribution to the Foreign Service community.

Her service at Embassy Kabul during a remarkably difficult time helped ensure the safety and protection of countless embassy staff, associates, and evacuees.

Christine served as a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) under extraordinarily difficult circumstances—a pandemic and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid-2022.

She helped manage pandemic-related anxiety by implementing safety protocols for events and recreation which helped protect the health and safety of embassy staff. While the embassy was still reeling from the pandemic, a departure order was issued in April 2022 for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, marking the end to a 20-year presence.

AFSA Juanita Guess Award ceremony participants with the winner.
AFSA Awards event with Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, RaeJean Stokes, Eric Rubin, Jon Clements, Christine Peterson, and Dr. Sushma Palmer.

She played a pivotal role before, during, and after the ordered departure, working tirelessly to ensure those serving in Kabul evacuated safely. This often entailed working 20-hour days, responding to hundreds of emails and messages and sharing information which was vital to operations and security. During this time, Christine’s challenges were compounded by the unexpected withdrawal date being moved up, forcing her to adapt and overcome the adversity brought by a shorter timeline.

Christine provided important support during two harrowing events: once when passengers were held at gunpoint en route to the airport and then again after a suicide attack at the Kabul airport. She provided information and accountability for personnel during these events.

Christine’s service did not slow down once she reached the U.S. She served on the Afghanistan Coordination Task Force Logistics Team as the Communications Lead, guiding the team who relied on her knowledge of Kabul operations. She kept working from afar to evacuate personnel by coordinating flights out of Afghanistan. Christine oriented new arrivals to the U.S., providing information and essential supplies, like SIM cards. Her care and support extended outside the embassy staff, as well. She visited various camps to disseminate information and supplies to evacuees and advocated pre-natal care for pregnant Afghanis.

The M. Juanita Guess Award is Clements’ small way of recognizing Christine’s enormous contribution. We applaud you, Christine, for your selfless service and commitment.

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About Clements

Our journey in becoming a preferred global insurance provider began in 1947 with the creation of the first expatriate program providing international insurance for the U.S. Foreign Service exclusively. With clients served in 170+ countries, we now manage worldwide insurance portfolios for ambassadors, diplomats, foreign service officers and specialists, the military ovrseas, contractors, educators, and professionals abroad. Additionally, we provide a range business insurance solutions targeted to cover organizations’ operations in high risk and emerging areas.

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Clements supports numerous awards and recognition programs for expat youth and foreign service officers serving around the world.