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

Sponsored by Clements Worldwide

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

M. Juanita Guess

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.

M. Juanita Guess co-founder and former president of Clements Worldwide.
M. Juanita Guess co-founder and former president of Clements Worldwide.

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.

2023 Award Winner

Erin Cederlind

Congratulations to Erin Cederlind, the 2023 recipient of the American Foreign Service Association’s (AFSA) M. Juanita Guess Award for her outstanding contribution to the Foreign Service community.

The true pinnacle of Erin’s extraordinary performance unfolded during the Sudan crisis, where she played a pivotal role in preparing Djibouti to receive evacuees. Erin went above and beyond, investing countless hours and mobilizing the Embassy community to collect essential supplies for over 80 U.S. diplomats and their families.

Her meticulous planning, coordination with various offices, and late-night efforts at Camp Lemonnier were instrumental in providing a much needed. Even after the immediate crisis had passed, Erin’s dedication endured, with her organizing a trunk sale/giveaway event for local staff to access the surplus donations.

Being a CLO doesn’t mean you have all the answers, it means knowing who to ask. It doesn’t mean you are the only positive person at post, it means that positivity is channeled through you.

– Erin Cederlind 

From the moment she stepped into her role as co-Community Liaison Coordinator in Djibouti, Erin’s vibrant energy and initiative in fostering a sense of community among Embassy members was apparent. 

One of Erin’s initial endeavors was the creation of an Embassy-wide Trunk-or-Treat party, demonstrating her ability to identify opportunities for community engagement and swiftly bring innovative ideas to life. Her resourcefulness and generosity were evident as she shared personal decorating supplies, fostering a sense of unity among Embassy children and their families.

AFSA president with the Juanita Guess Award winner and Jon Clements.
At the Awards event with AFSA President Tom Yazdgerdi, Erin Cederlind, and Jon Clements.

Over the subsequent months, Erin continued to captivate the Embassy community with a myriad of events catering to diverse demographics, often executed on a shoestring budget through her resourcefulness in utilizing on-hand supplies and donations. When faced with potential disruptions to the annual holiday event, Erin took charge, resolving conflicts, recruiting volunteers, and orchestrating a new, low-cost embassy-wide party that resonated positively with the entire community. 

Erin’s commitment extended beyond festive occasions, as she planned events to bridge the gap between U.S. Direct Hire and Locally Engaged staff, fostering camaraderie through outdoor movie nights and informational sessions on security best practices. Her exceptional work on redesigning Djibouti’s Post Info to Go video, active participation in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) events, and revitalization of contacts with local guides and vendors demonstrated her commitment to nurturing positive connections within and beyond the Embassy walls. 

Her commitment to community welfare, demonstrated through tireless efforts, and compassionate leadership, underscores Erin Cederlind’s unparalleled qualifications as the M. Juanita Guess Award Recipient.

While being a CLO can be a very demanding position, the rewards and relationships that come from it are priceless not just for the community but for the CLOs themselves.

– Erin Cederlind 
Employee relationships and the I-Care values are core to the Clements culture.

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.

Past Award Winners

2022: Christine Peterson

Christine served as a Community Liaison Officer (CLO) under extraordinarily difficult circumstances—a pandemic and the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in mid-2022. Her service at Embassy Kabul helped ensure the safety and protection of countless embassy staff, associates, and evacuees.

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Corporate Social Responsibility

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