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Women of Color in STEM conference recognizes FS employees’ achievements

Portrait photo of Alex Friend
Deputy Chief Alex Friend, Research and Development

Stewardship of America’s national forests and grasslands is a vast undertaking. Managing these resources, that are culturally and biophysically vital to the public, requires our nation’s brightest minds and most dedicated public servants. I believe diversity is a fundamental characteristic of a successful workforce, and to achieve that, we need to foster an environment that celebrates and empowers representation from different backgrounds and perspectives. It is one of our core values and we remain committed to modeling diversity and inclusion throughout the agency.

The Women of Color in STEM Conference provides great opportunity each year to celebrate some of our best and brightest, while redoubling our commitment to maintaining and growing diversity among our staff. This national conference recognizes the outstanding achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and math fields by offering a forum for women to share ideas and knowledge, network, gain training and inspire the next generation in STEM. Many Forest Service trailblazers have been recognized at the conference over the years – women who are leaders in their field and who serve as role models for future STEM professionals. 

On October 8-10, at the 25th annual conference, several USDA professionals were honored with prestigious awards. The peer reviewed awards are determined by a panel of leaders from industry, government and academia, making it a highly competitive process. Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator for Agriculture Research Service, was recognized in this category and received the Career Achievement Award in Government. This award goes to senior level professionals in recognition of their leadership in driving the standard for excellence in their organization. She is a leader who manages others with sensitivity as well as strategic insight.

Research and Development’s Dr. Sharon Parker, program manager for Science Synthesis, was also recognized with the Technology All-Stars Award. These are given to accomplished women of color from mid-level to advanced stages of their careers who have demonstrated excellence in the workplace and in their communities.

Forest Service participation in the conference extends beyond its staff being recognized. Hiring events and panels hosted by Forest Service personnel have also been part of the engagements offered at the conference. This year, nearly 280 participants tuned into the Forest Service virtual panel featuring Beattra Wilson, assistant director for Urban and Community Forestry; Dr. Monica Lear, station director for the Rocky Mountain Research Station; as well as Dr. Sharon Parker and Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young. Linda Jones, senior staff assistant in Research and Development, has served as the agency coordinator for six years and is integral to our visibility and participation at this prestigious event. The HRM National Strategic Recruitment team, led by Tina Terrell managed the hiring event

In the spirit of One USDA, and in celebration of this important opportunity to recognize talent and dedication, I heartily congratulate the Department of Agriculture staff who have been recognized at this year’s Women of Color in STEM conference. Strengthening diversity helps the Forest Service create a stronger connection both within our workforce and between the agency and the communities we serve.