Secretary Blinken’s Roundtable with the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association (AAFAA) and the South Asian American Employee Association (SAAEA)
Friday, May 27 @ 11:00 A.M. (EDT)
Each May, the State Department joins the rest of the nation in celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. During this month, we celebrate the accomplishments of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) and the diverse perspectives they bring to the Department’s work and mission. Join Secretary Antony J. Blinken for a live virtual roundtable discussion with representative members of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Assocation (AAFAA) and South Asian American Employee Association (SAAEA).
Asian American Foreign Affairs Association
The Asian American Foreign Affairs Association (AAFAA) is an officially recognized Employee Organization (EO) composed of Civil Service and Foreign Service employees, fellows, contractors, interns, and retirees at the U.S. Department of State with the mission to improve recruitment, outreach, and professional development of Asian American, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) officers. Established in 1981, AAFAA is made up of over 900 employees serving domestically and overseas. AAFAA supports the Department’s Equal Employment Opportunity mission and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives through its annual leadership dinner, May AANHPI Heritage Month celebrations, and professional development, mentoring, and networking events.
South Asian American Employee Association
Founded in 2009, the South Asian American Employee Association (SAAEA) is one of the Department’s officially recognized EOs and is made up of over 300 Civil and Foreign Service Officers, contractors, and interns. SAAEA’s mission is twofold: enhancing recruitment, retention, and promotion of South Asian Americans and raising cultural awareness of the region to support U.S. foreign policy priorities. SAAEA highlights the contributions of its members, builds internal and external networks, and fosters professional development. SAAEA’s proud celebration of South Asian culture has also led to positive press coverage from the region and contributes positively to bilateral relations. In early 2021, SAAEA launched the first EO mentorship program with AAFAA and the Hispanic Employee Council of Foreign Affairs Agencies, beginning with over 100 Foreign Service Officers and Specialists. SAAEA is a strategic partner with the Department to promote a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Elizabeth “Liz” Liu
President, Asian American Foreign Affairs Association
Liz is a public diplomacy-coned Foreign Service Officer serving as Acting Deputy Director in the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Bureau’s Office of Multilateral Affairs. Liz previously served two tours in the Bureau of African Affairs as Special Coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative and Assistant Cultural Coordinator, and as a Press Officer in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Her overseas assignments include Taiwan and the Philippines. Liz holds an MA in International Affairs at the University of California, San Diego and a BA in Political Science from the University of Florida. Prior to the Foreign Service, she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer at Washington, DC-based NGO Asian American LEAD. As an Asian American, she appreciates the benefits of living with her in-laws, including childcare assistance and homemade Taiwanese food!
Foreign Service Vice President, Asian American Foreign Affairs Association
Elizabeth (Liz) Jones is a Public Diplomacy Officer currently working as an Information Officer in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs covering China and Taiwan. Liz joined the Foreign Service in 2010 and has served in Hyderabad, India, Taiwan, Chengdu, China, and Singapore. Before joining the Foreign Service, Liz worked as an education consultant in China. She graduated from Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature. Liz’s husband is also a Foreign Service Officer, and they have two children, two Chinese cats, and an Indian dog.
President, South Asian American Employee Association
Moshtayeen Ahmad is the Director for Resilience and Good Governance in the Development, Global Health, and Humanitarian Response Directorate at the National Security Council (NSC). She is a detailee from the State Department where she most recently was the South and Central Asia Team Lead in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Previously, she served as Acting Deputy Director and Burma lead on the East Asian and Pacific/South and Central Asian Affair team (CSO/EAP-SCA). She graduated the Presidential Management Fellowship in June 2018. Since joining CSO in 2016, Moshtayeen completed long term rotations at Embassy Rangoon, Embassy Tirana, and the U.S. Trade Representative. Moshtayeen is also the President for the South Asian American Employees Association.
Prior to CSO, Moshtayeen was the Special Assistant for the Office of Global Change’s program team in the Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental, and Scientific Affairs managing programs under the Global Climate Change Initiative. Moshtayeen received her Master’s in International Affairs from George Washington University’s Elliott School, with concentrations on International Economics and U.S. Foreign Policy. During her graduate studies, she interned at DRL-EUR, Embassy Bratislava, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the White House. Moshtayeen attended Florida State University for her Bachelor’s with honors in International Affairs and minor in Middle East Studies. At FSU, she received certificates for International Humanitarian Law, Urban & Regional Planning, and International Development.
Tenzin Dawa Thargay
Professional Development Chair, Asian American Foreign Affairs Association
Tenzin is a first-tour Economics-coned Foreign Service Officer and Tibetan American from Boston, MA. He is currently in Vietnamese language training for a consular tour at Embassy Hanoi next June. A Rangel Fellow, Tenzin earned an M.A. in International Affairs and a Graduate Certificate in Chinese Studies from Columbia University SIPA and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, respectively. Prior to the Foreign Service, he was a Fulbright research grantee in Seoul, South Korea and earned dual B.A. degrees in political science and Chinese from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Tenzin is an avid tennis player.
Member, South Asian American Employee Association
Waleed Hashmi is a civil servant in the Bureau of South & Central Asian affairs, serving on the Political Unit of the Pakistan Desk. He previously served two years in the Office of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh Affairs, advancing the Indo-Pacific Strategy and supporting economic development initiatives for communities in South Asia. He will start a doctoral degree in International Affairs this fall at Johns Hopkins SAIS, focusing on U.S. grand strategy. Waleed is a Pakistani-American, fluent in Urdu and Hindi, and loves everything U.S.-Pakistan related!
Member, Asian American Affairs Association
Andrew Ou assumed his current position as Bhutan Unit Chief at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India in August 2021.
Since joining the State Department in September 2001, Mr. Ou has served as a Consular Officer in Kingston, Jamaica and Hong Kong; South Korea Desk Officer at State Department headquarters; diplomatic exchange fellow covering India and Pakistan at the Japanese Foreign Ministry; Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan; Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, China; Deputy Director of the Office of Taiwan Coordination in Washington DC; Assessor at the State Department’s Board of Examiners; and Deputy Foreign Policy Advisor at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. He is the recipient of multiple individual and group State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, as well as the 2021 Robert D. Murphy Senior-Level Foreign Policy Advisor (POLAD) of the Year Award.
Mr. Ou speaks Korean, Japanese, and Mandarin Chinese. He was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea; attended secondary school in Pensacola, Florida and Nairobi, Kenya; and obtained his Bachelor’s degree in international politics at Georgetown University. After working in the Japanese public service and education sectors for four years, Mr. Ou completed a Masters degree in East Asian history at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii, where we was also an East-West Center Fellow.