Perhaps the most significant recommendation of AAFSW’s FORUM report was to establish the Family Liaison Office (FLO). The AAFSW engaged in direct dialogue with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance on this matter. In 1978, the Family Liaison Office was opened to considerable publicity with a big reception, attended by the Secretary of State and Mrs. Vance, members of Congress and the press. Thus, the AAFSW, a volunteer group, managed to change the structure of the bureaucracy and to insert a new function–that of the FLO. This was a major accomplishment which helped to change the face of the Foreign Service. When the Office was scarcely two years old, then-Under Secretary for Management Ben Read wrote that the FLO had “already become an accepted and essential part of Department operations.”
I was worried about the memo getting through SS because I knew it had to have all sorts of clearances. It had to have the clearances from all of the executive directors. And I expected them to hold it up. Which in effect, began to happen. And Gaye (Vance, wife of Secretary Cyrus Vance) said, “When is Cy going to get it?” Cy Vance, the Secretary. And I said, “Well, Gaye, I don’t know. We’re having some trouble with clearances from the executive directors, but it’ll get there eventually.” And she said, “Stephanie, you do have an extra copy of it, don’t you?” (laughter) And I said, “Well, I suppose that could be arranged.” And she said, “Well, you know, I think Cy would be very interested in reading this tonight.” So I got her an extra copy of it and she took it home and tucked it under his pillow. And within 24 hours, we had the Secretary’s blessing.
Q: Wonderful. This is the blessing for?
KINNEY: For FLOStephanie Kinney
Okay, the Family Liaison Office was founded, shall we say, in March of 1978 through the advocacy of AAFSW, which at that time was called The Association of American Foreign Service Women. Their think tank, the Forum sent out surveys to Foreign Service officers and families’ querying them about what was needed in their life to make it better; this was 1976-77. They got back a tremendous response and the overwhelming response was they needed to have someone or an office that was paying attention to things like education for children, employment for spouses, those things we call quality of life today that did not necessarily have anything to do with the career path of the employee but it was factors affecting family and life style. So the AAFSW tabulated this and presented the report to Undersecretary for Management Ben Reed and found its way up to the Secretary of State, at that time Cyrus Vance. He agreed with the results of the survey that there should be an office that paid attention to these factors and so I guess it was Lesley Dorman who was president at that time or head of the Forum who actually met with Cyrus Vance and advocated for this and the office was established. It was one of those things that all the winds were blowing in the right direction because it is pretty unusual to have a volunteer organization actually be able to insert an office into the bureaucracy. This is what happened in 1978 with fanfare and the Secretary of State cutting the ribbons.Faye Barnes interview with ADST, Tape 3, time stamp 1:00-2:54
Q: Ok, Stephanie, let’s talk about at the time when opened, what did the liaison office [FLO] do?Stephanie Kinney
Stephanie: Well, as I said, it had two primary functions: one was to help people help themselves by providing information, and the other was to sit at the table as a voice for families on any Management policies and discussions that could directly or indirectly affect families