Membership Process and Criteria

Annual Nomination and Election Process

Candidate Nomination

Only current Academy members in good standing may nominate.

The membership Committee Chair sends out a note to formally announce the call for nominations during the summer, but candidates can be submitted by members any time during the year, to be included in the following election process. In order to nominate a candidate, a member must:

  • Find at least another member to “second” his nomination. Three is the maximum number of seconders allowed on a nomination. Seconders simply lend their name and endorse the nominations without writing additional statements.
  • Submit a one-page nominating statement that makes the​ best ​case for their nominee and includes relevant information on the nominee’s career. The section on membership in our website details the membership criteria. ​If seconders want to write something, it has to fit within the one page nomination.​ The submission can be done in a word document or using our nomination form, and sent via email to both and

In light of the fact that membership is not automatic, the Academy encourages nominators to think carefully whether/when they choose to inform a potential candidate that she/he is being nominated. Various AAD members who frequently submit nominations seem to have their own individual strategies, often quite different, in terms of what they share with potential nominees and when. We simply encourage a potential nominator to consider carefully what strategy is most appropriate for an individual candidate.

Candidate Review and New Member Election

The Academy’s selection process is rigorous and selective. Once the submission deadline has passed, usually in early September, all nominations are reviewed and screened by the Membership Committee, to make sure that they fulfill the membership criteria detailed in our bylaws. The committee presents a final list to the Board of Directors for approval and decision on voting numbers.

The full membership is then polled through electronic ballot in which some, but not all, of the persons listed on the ballot will be elected to membership. The current limit is 20 new members per year. A packet of nominations of the eligible candidates is provided to help members select candidates they may not know personally. Members are requested to vote for a maximum number of candidates from all the nominations. The election deadline is usually between the end of September and mid-October. The election notice will arrive by email, with a couple of reminders before the voting deadline. The votes are anonymous.

New Member Acceptance

The once the results are tallied, membership is offered to the agreed upon number of candidates with the most votes. Once they accept membership, new members are invited to events at the end of the current year, including the Annual Awards luncheon in the Benjamin Franklin Room at State. New members start owing dues the following year, even though their acceptance date marks their formal membership status with the Academy. A new member luncheon is organized in February for the new members to meet the Academy’s Board of Directors and Committee Chairs.

Questions or need assistance?

Contact the Chair of the AAD Membership Committee, currently Janice Jacobs–  or AAD Program Director, currently Maria Reissaus –


Vice Chairman of the Academy Marc Grossman speaking at the 2019 New Member Luncheon

Criteria for the Selection of New Members

1. In considering candidates for membership,factors such as the following should be taken into account:

     – Demonstrated distinguished accomplishments

     – Sustained performance, preferably including more than one significant foreign                  affairs or diplomatic assignment

     –  Demonstrated continuing interest in foreign affairs

     – Balance between geographic and functional expertise

     – Diversity of professional backgrounds, race and gender, career and  non-career                 experience.

2. All former secretaries of state as honorary members.

3. All former deputy secretaries, under secretaries, heads of USAID, assistant secretaries, Directors of policy planning staffs,Directors general of the Foreign Service, counselors of the Department, and NSC senior directors, who preferably have held a chief of mission post as well.

4. Former chiefs of mission who preferably have held at least two chiefs of mission posts, one of which is deemed to be of major diplomatic importance.

5. Former ambassadors who have held positions of national distinction (g. Members of Congress, governors, university Presidents,Presidents of major national institutions.)

6. All former representatives to the United Nations in New York.

7. Secretaries of Cabinet Departments and their deputies, Directors and deputy directors of National Intelligence and the CIA,and NSC advisers to the President.

8. Former Combatant Commanders (CINC’s), Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

9. Former chairpersons and ranking minority members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, or other committees of the Congress.

10. On rare occasions, other exceptionally qualified persons who as a result of their contributions to the field of American diplomacy, merit admission.

11. No one serving in the US Government is deemed eligible for active membership.