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Tribute from AISA

Update

It is with great pleasure that the AISA Board announces the winner of the 2022 Outstanding Contribution to an AISA Programme is CONNIE BUFORD.

We know the joy of Connie receiving this award must be mixed with some sadness at her passing, but the AISA community felt this award is a fitting tribute to a staunch supporter of AISA’s programmes over many years.

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Connie Buford first entered the AISA firmament in the early 80’s as a representative for the University of South Carolina, just as I began my own career in international education at the International Community School in Addis Ababa. Later from my 1992 assignment at the International School of Tanganyika, my four years there coincided with Connie’s heyday as the executive director of AISA. At AISA conferences, I admired her energetic leadership and benefitted from her cheerful social skills, her wide range of contacts and friends, navigating through conferences and workshops as the marvelously effective and professional educational leader that she was. Those who knew little about the organization nevertheless knew Connie and wanted to be part of the work she was doing. She made friends easily, remembered names, responded to needs and requests without fail and was genuinely happy to see you the next time you met.

When she left to return to the US, I remember thinking what a loss it was to AISA and all of us who depended on her leadership. It was my good fortune in the years following to have frequent contact with Connie through many more conferences and her work as a consultant and trainer in other schools where I worked. We enjoyed many a meal together in exotic locations with mutual friends. She was a constant support and a great communicator. Whenever I contacted her for any reason, it was a relief to hear her beautiful southern accent on the other end of the line, asking “How can I help?”

Through the many joys and hardships of her work, and remarkably even in these final years of declining health, Connie never failed to be upbeat and cheerful, bringing everyone along in her wake, often entering a room with the question “Are we having fun yet?” When she was there, we were most certainly having fun.

Rest in peace, Dear Connie.

Areta Williams (AISA Board Chair 1999 – 2008)

Image captions:
  • Connie with Areta Williams and Rob Armstrong
  • Connie leading an AISA learning event

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