Excel as a High-Performing Agency

Federal Women’s Program visibility empowers employees to work better together

Protrait photo of Leslie Weldon. U.S and Forest Service glags in the background
Leslie Weldon, senior executive for Work Environment & Performance Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Fiscal year 2020 has arrived and the Federal Women’s Program continues to gain momentum. Over 100 Federal Women’s Program Special Emphasis Program Managers, across the nation are committed to knowing and living the agency mission, code and commitments, and values. Both as a group and as individuals, we use our voices to advance the gender equality conversation, working together toward achieving equal opportunity for all. The Federal Women’s Program is serving as a conduit to connect employees and provide a platform to share life experiences, lift each other up and pay it forward. Here are a few examples:

Women in Science
The Women in Science series features women scientists from across Southern Research Station – their education, career paths, challenges, achievements, and inspirations. Meet Cathryn (Katie) H. Greenberg, a research ecologist with the Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management unit located at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest in Asheville, North Carolina.

Making History HERstory
Rachel Kline, a Forest Service historian with the Enterprise Program, is currently researching and writing about women’s agency work and contributions as an integral part of Forest Service history. Kline has collected archival materials and records about Forest Service women for the past several years and recently spent two weeks researching the topic in the Forest Service Headquarters History Collection at the Forest History Society in Durham, North Carolina. Working with the Federal Women’s Program, Kline’s research uncovers many, many more of the women who helped to make the agency what it is today.  In honor of all Forest Service women, this work will be unveiled through a series of short stories throughout fiscal year 2020. Click ahead to learn more about Kline and her work.

Women in Fire
July was designated as American Diversity Month by USDA. In support of the USDA-wide initiative, the Work Environment & Performance Office sponsored a Women in Fire event. A panel of outstanding Forest Service women who have been involved in wildland fire management throughout their careers came together to tell a broad story of how women show-up in the wildland fire arena.

This one-hour event was live-streamed. Click ahead to watch a recording of this event.   

Women in Agriculture Employee Group
From the classroom to the farm to the boardroom, women in agriculture at USDA are helping to pave the way for a better future. This employee group offers a variety of programming that empowers women, provides leadership opportunities, gets women connected and offers a remarkable mentoring series. The WIA Speaker Series is a great opportunity to hear and learn from remarkable women in agriculture in leadership positions at USDA. The Mentor Speaker Series has featured Forest Service employees, including most recently Beth Rands, Fire Program Specialist. Beth talked about her passion for tackling old problems with new and creative approaches. Making sure we are mindful of our workplace environment, mental health and suicide prevention, and internal communications. Beth made a notable appearance and is an example of living the agency values.  If you are interested in joining Women in Agriculture email WIAEmployeeGroup@dm.usda.gov

Women in Middle to Upper Leadership
The Federal Women’s Special Emphasis Program Core team hosted two virtual focus group discussions, March and June 2019. The 90-minute virtual focus group discussion topic “Women in middle to upper leadership” was well received by 247 employees. Participants shared their thoughts and experiences through an unnamed/anonymous phone line, poll questions and chat pod.  A diverse panel kicked off each discussion responding to thoughtful questions delivered by moderators followed by greater engagement. 

The virtual room was filled with untiring listening, constant learning and optimistic sharing. Panelists from Region 1, 2, 5, 6, 9 and the Washington Office were superb, reminding us that the journey toward leadership and challenges we face look different to each of us. It is clear that each of these stellar panelists apply the Forest Service Leader’s Stance and Habits leading from position and character. Kimberly Peters, Training and Employee Development Branch Chief provided an overview of leadership programs available to Forest Service employees informing that these programs provide an opportunity to develop ourselves. Learn more about leadership development in the Forest Service by visiting the TED website.

It is the works of this nature that inspire and take us beyond the moment.  Planting awareness and sharing of ourselves in the day to day, doing and being is how we promote growth and expand the world of others. This important work is being done across the nation, here we have only named a few examples. 

Are you curious about the Federal Women’s Program and want to learn how to get engaged? Connect with Dani Ramirez-Montoya, National Federal Women’s Program Manager at  danette.ramirezmontoya@usda.gov. The Outreach and Diversity SharePoint site and Federal Women’s Special Emphasis Core Team SharePoint site are updated often and provide program tools and resources for all employees.