National Funeral Home & National Memorial Park

7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA


In lieu of cut flowers, the family requests potted flowers or plants.

Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza

March 6, 1959August 3, 2019

On Aug 3, 2019, Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza, age 60, of Falls Church, Virginia, loving wife and mother passed away. Betty is survived by her husband Pawel Zabza, son Thomas Zabza, stepdaughter Alicja Zabza, mother Gloria Bernstein, brother Martin Bernstein, and nieces Claire and Hannah Bernstein.

Betty was born on March 6, 1959, in Monticello, NY to Gloria and Charles Bernstein. She graduated from State University of New York – Binghamton in Binghamton, New York, the former Antioch Law School in Washington, DC, and the National Defense University in Washington, DC. On July 6, 1996, she married Pawel Zabza in Warsaw, Poland.

For 25 years, Betty served with distinction as a Foreign Service Officer for the State Department where she held multiple positions around the world including Poland, Switzerland, Germany, and Israel, as well as Washington, D.C. While she was tireless in her commitment to representing the United States abroad, her real passion was her work on gender equality. She held senior positions in the Office of Women’s Issues and the Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism where she worked on programs that sought to increase livelihood opportunities for women and to promote women in programs to combat counterterrorism. Due to her experience and expertise, she was a sought-after speaker on issues related to gender equality.

Betty was known for her sense humor, compassion to those less fortunate, and devotion to her family and friends. Betty lived everyday with passion. Her legacy will continue through the programs she championed and the lives she touched both personally and professionally.

A memorial service will be held on August 11, 2019, at 11 a.m. at the National Funeral Home and Memorial Park, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, VA 22042, with visitations starting at 10 a.m. As an expression of sympathy and in lieu of cut flowers, potted flowers or plants are encouraged so that the family may plant them in her memory. Alternatively, memorial contributions may be made in Betty’s name to a charity of choice working on gender equality or animal welfare.


  • Visitation Sunday, August 11, 2019
  • Funeral Service Sunday, August 11, 2019
  • Graveside Service Sunday, August 11, 2019
  • Reception Sunday, August 11, 2019


Betty Ana Bernstein-Zabza

have a memory or condolence to add?

Wo Daddy

August 16, 2019

It is so deeply saddening to hear of Betty's untimely passing. During such times, however, it may bring a ray of sunshine to your day to know what a pleasure it was to have Betty as a classmate at NDU (2012-13). It was always great to hear her brave, insightful, and funny comments, regardless of the instructor or class makeup. She had a knack of standing up for her opinions and views, even if they were contrary to others' points of view. In these small ways, Betty inspired us all to speak up, when necessary, and to be an agent for positive change.

Salute, Betty. Your memory lives on in the spirit of those that were blessed to have known you!

Ahmed Maaodhah

August 16, 2019

My deep condolences to her family and loved ones. She was very supportive fellow when we were studying together at NDU - CISA.
I'm sure she is a big loss to every one who loves and knows her. May she rest in peace.
Ahmed Maaodhah

Jaroslav Vondrak

August 16, 2019

Betty was a great person with a big heart for everybody. She was open-minded and never afraid to say her opinion. I will miss her a lot. My deepest condolences to her family. Jaroslav Vondrak, CISA 2013.

Maria Smith

August 13, 2019

I had the pleasure of working with Betty the last three years at State. She was a good lady. She'll be missed. My thoughts and prayers for her family.

Cheryl Cramer

August 13, 2019

Betty was a kind & loving woman.
Her brother, Martin, and my sister Michele Greenwald are the parents of Our nieces Claire & Hannah. Their 13th birthday was August 2, and Betty wrote "Happy birthday teenagers". I commented how great it was & looked forward to seeing her next month, at the girls Bat Mitzvah. Tragically, a day later, she died. You will be missed Betty❤️ Gone but never forgotten.

Kim Seifert-Ahanda

August 12, 2019

Betty was the best friend anyone could hope for and a second mom to my children (and others'). Her beauty, internal and external, just glowed and her generosity was boundless. She was kind, caring, funny, passionate and sometimes fierce. She was always there to give a helping hand and was a great listener with sage advice. She was tremendously accomplished but remained humble and down to earth. I feel blessed to have shared a deep friendship with such an extraordinary person. Not only was she a good person but she made this world a better place, locally and globally. Thank you "Mr. Z" and "T". for sharing your wife and mom with the rest of us. The goodness that she gave is a part of everyone who knew her and lives on through us.

Pawel Zabza

August 9, 2019

Betty joined Foreign Service in 1994 and her very first post was Warsaw Poland. She let know her aunt and uncle, who happened to have had a good Polish friend living near them in NYC. That friend had a son who lived in Warsaw - let's call him Mr.Z. Betty got his phone number and was asked to contact him, he was forewarned about the call.

I can tell you with certainty that Mr.Z dreaded receiving that phone call, because he imagined her to be a "high maintenance spoiled American lady" used to luxuries. And Mr.Z could hardly afford much those days.

But receive that phone call he did and he did his best to remain noncommittal then. That "spoiled American lady" called once more few weeks later, and Mr.Z once more managed to evade meeting her. Phew!

But just when he thought he got away scot-free, his mom called to announce her upcoming visit. Part of her visit was to meet with both Mr.Z and the "spoiled American lady". Mr.Z got a "reaaaaly bad feeling about this", and braced himself for impact.

That's how one afternoon Mr.Z was told to meet his mom and the "spoiled American lady" at the corner of Pulawska and Idzikowskiego street in Warsaw. When he got off a tram that afternoon, Mr.Z spotted his mom standing next to and engaged in a conversation with a heavenly creature, kind of which Mr.Z has never seen before. Time slowed down as Mr.Z was approaching the two women in slow motion. Then the heavenly creature lifted her eyes and looked straight into Mr.Z's eyes, and he has no clear recollection of what happened after that.

I can tell you that the heavenly creature turned out to be as beautiful inside as she was on the outside, and Mr.Z turned out to be every bit a dumbass he feared himself to be. But while whatever she saw in him remains mystery, her radiance became a beacon to guide Mr.Z through life's maze.

Thank you for everything Betty,
Yours forever Mr.Z

Sheldon Rapoport

August 8, 2019

I was on the BEX panel that admitted Betty to the Foreign Service. She did a terrific job and impressed us so much that we decided to fast track her application. Later I had the pleasure of serving with her in the south Asia bureau and having my positive assessment of her once again confirmed. She was a terrific Colleague and will be greatly missed. My condolences to her family.

Helena Finn

August 8, 2019

Dear Pawel,

Heartfelt condolences to you and Thomas. The Sunday afternoons when you, she and Thomas came over to my home in Berlin were always full of joy. Betty was an extraordinarily dedicated and talented diplomat. We had many lively conversations about the society and politics of Israel and Germany during our years at those two posts. Most importantly, she brought light and laughter and optimism to every challenge she faced. She will live on in our memories.

With love to you both,


Anne and Steven Szymanski

August 7, 2019

Love and hugs and prayers of comfort to Pawel and Thomas. Anne and Steven