And if there’s a top people person of them all, it’s Hector Chapungu

this year’s State Department-wide FSN of the Year. Chapungu, American
Citizens Services assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe,
won the award for the Bureau of African Afairs. (Each geographic
bureau chooses a winner.) A six-year veteran of the post, he was cited for
“outstanding work assisting, informing and protecting American citizens
in Zimbabwe during a politically volatile period.”
In an interview, Chapungu noted the tense U.S. relationship with his
homeland’s government, but pointed to the customer service experience
he gained earlier with DHL worldwide courier service as a help in
handling potentially touchy matters, such as getting packages cleared
through Zimbabwean Customs.
Chapungu, who is married and has two children, said his work
involves building networks of host nation contacts, while helping
American visitors be aware of the nation’s restrictions; they cannot take
photos anywhere they want, for instance. His contacts in law enforcement
help him gain permission to visit incarcerated Americans; his contacts in
tourism and emergency services help if a tourist is injured while on safari;
and his private sector contacts allow the embassy to communicate via the
frms’ radios if the national phone network is down, he explained.
“You must have people on the ground who can be your eyes,” he
observed, adding that a big challenge is regularly having to cultivate new
contacts, due to continual turnover among Zimbabwean ofcials.
Being a people person, he said, “comes to me naturally. People
management skills are very important.” He’s also well educated, with a
bachelor’s degree in politics and administration and a certifcate in, of
course, customer service.
By Ed Warner, deputy editor, State Magazine
If there’s a factor that unites the six winners of
Foreign Service National (FSN) of the Year award
for 2013, beyond their excellent performance,
it’s that they’re “people persons”: workers who,
in addition to having technical training, can
motivate colleagues and gain cooperation from
sometimes recalcitrant host governments.
Hector Chapungu
Another factor the 2013 FSNs of the Year have in common is their
high levels of education. Hamad is an electrical engineer, as is Baltazar
E. Enalpe Jr., FSN of the Year for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacifc
Afairs. Enalpe, who also has a degree in mechanical engineering,
joined the U.S. Embassy in Manila in 1989 as a maintenance
dispatcher. He’s now the chief engineer and senior Locally Employed
Staf member in the facilities management ofce. Tere, he supervises
94 direct-hire employees and more than 100 contractors who do
everything from cleaning and grounds maintenance to keeping the
air conditioning and power running. He was cited for leadership
on “long-term planning initiatives and systems improvements that
substantially contributed to key mission goals in the Philippines.”
While engineers are sometimes faulted as being more comfortable
with things than with people, Enalpe is a genuine people person and
a successful negotiator. In one case, he helped convince the Philippine
government to build a new pedestrian bridge, the Philippine-
American Friendship Bridge, at a cost of 15 million Philippine pesos,
so that the visa applicants could safely cross a busy street to reach the
embassy. In another instance, he got trafc lights installed at a point
where embassy employees needed to make U-turns on a busy street to
enter a newly constructed parking lot at the embassy.
He also got the government of Pasay City to convert a vacant lot
adjacent to the embassy annex and U.S. Veterans Afairs clinic into
dedicated embassy parking. In that case, he said, success came partly
because of contacts—the city engineer is a neighbor—and partly
because he couched the matter as a veterans’ issue in a nation that still
recalls how the United States liberated it from the Japanese in World
War II. “You have to have some charismatic way of convincing people
to help your ofce,” he observed.
Ever the learner, Enalpe is now pursuing an MBA.
Amr Hamad
Baltazar E. Enalpe 1r.
Another 2013 FSN of the Year who is both a people person and
a believer in education is Fereena Qiyam, winner for the Bureau of
South and Central Asian Afairs. Afghanistan can be a challenging
place for a young, single woman to pursue education, but Qiyam
studied at Kabul University and graduated in 2010. A protocol
assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul since 2008, Qiyam recently
received a Special Immigrant Visa that she’ll use to study for a
master’s degree in the United States. Ultimately, she wants to serve the
Department in a higher capacity, but still specializing in Afghanistan
and the region.
Qiyam’s people skills are especially useful when working with
the Afghan government on such protocol matters as ensuring the
protection of U.S. ofcials. Although four Americans at post hold
the title of ambassador, the government of Afghanistan at one time
allowed only the actual chief of mission to drive onto its presidential
compound. Te others had to make a potentially dangerous walk.
When the acting chargé d’afaires, a woman, sought the same
protection, Qiyam interceded with initially resistant Afghan
presidential security ofcials, one of whom “told me to go wash
dishes,” seeing that as appropriate woman’s work, she recalled. Qiyam
persevered, obtaining vehicular access for the chargé and the other
ambassador-ranked ofcials—no small feat in a country which is so
conscious of security and protocol. Her award says it was given “for
outstanding work ethic, excellent judgment, and tireless dedication to
protocol on behalf of Embassy Kabul and the U.S. government.”
Another FSN of the Year who works in a challenging environment
is Amr Hamad. Hamad, the Bureau of Near Eastern Afairs’ winner,
is an economic specialist working for the U.S. Consulate General in
Jerusalem but based in the Gaza Strip. Gaza faces numerous economic
and humanitarian challenges, including chronic electricity shortages,
high unemployment and restrictions on trade.
He said a big challenge is “changing the picture of the U.S.
government in the eyes of Palestinians in Gaza.”
Hamad was cited for his work in Gaza, particularly for providing
“timely and thoughtful input on the economic and humanitarian
conditions.” A three-year mission veteran, Hamad was formerly general
director of the Palestinian Federation of Industries. He is married and
has a 9-year-old daughter.
Hamad’s colleagues characterize him as “fearless.” Although outside of
the area when the fghting started, Hamad voluntarily re-entered Gaza
during Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense while the confict was
Fereena Qiyam
Zoran Djordjevic
Alfredo Pennycook
Te winner for the Bureau of European and
Eurasian Afairs, Zoran Djordjevic of the U.S.
Embassy in Belgrade, makes a striking impression
with his fuent, American-accented English, the result
of a childhood spent in New York City. (He remains
a Jets fan.)
And like the other winners, Djordjevic has superb
people skills, a necessity for a procurement supervisor
who must negotiate with local and U.S.-based
suppliers on prices and delivery times. He buys
whatever the post needs, from computers to $120,000
worth of all-terrain vehicles for use by Serbia’s border
Djordjevic started in the embassy mailroom
in 1987 and worked his way up to procurement
supervisor through what he termed “dogged pursuit
of goals” and constant study of such contracting rules
as the Federal Acquisition Regulations. “Before you
go into a [purchase] process, you have to research
and learn as much as you can about what you’re
buying, to ensure you’re getting the best deal for the
government,” explained Djordjevic, who is married
and has a daughter, now in medical school.
His award citation notes that he saved the
U.S. government more than $2 million through
“contracting expertise, hard work and innovation in
Beating Djordjevic’s 26-year tenure at post—by
one year—is Alfredo Pennycook, FSN of the Year for
the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Afairs. Nearly
all of Pennycook’s 27-year career at the U.S. Embassy
in La Paz, Bolivia, was with USAID, in such roles
as general services ofcer. In March 2013, he joined
the State Department as a property supervisor, which
requires him to keep track of such government-owned
materials as computers and desks.
Here, too, people skills come to the fore.
Pennycook notes how he negotiated with Bolivian
Customs in that nation’s “very tough” political
climate. Once, he said, Customs was intentionally
delaying release of the personal efects of staf
members from several embassies. In response,
he was selected to lead a group of staf members
from several embassies in developing strategies
to approach Customs representatives and solve
paperwork problems. Pennycook communicated
the group’s concerns to Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign
Afairs and Customs ofcials, and brought Customs
ofcials’ attention to problems such as the years-
long blockage on the importation of vehicles and
project goods. Tat restriction had held up the work
of USAID, the Bureau of International Narcotics
and Law Enforcement Afairs and the embassy. His
eforts contributed to a legal ruling in the embassy’s
favor that saved the U.S. government $1 million in
His award citation notes his “exceptional initiative
and outstanding collaboration with Bolivian ofcials
and diplomatic community colleagues towards
achieving Mission goals in Customs matters.”

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