Where FEW Women Go: Is There Glass on Your Floor?

Angela Lewis remembers when the mere thought of public speaking made her uncomfortable.

As a lifelong member of Federally Employed Women, she made the decision to invest in herself and develop her professional skills so she could advance her career.

Earlier this year, Lewis used her drive and determination to shatter a glass ceiling, when the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane’s Division promoted her to technical director. She is the first women to hold that position.

Dr. Angela Lewis, Technical Director, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division

As the senior civilian at the command, she leads 3,800 military and government civilians, providing the Navy with multi-domain, multi-spectral, full lifecycle support in the mission areas of expeditionary warfare, strategic missions and electronic warfare. 

So how did she put herself in the position to earn top rank?

Lewis used FEW and its very active Hoosier Hills Chapter as a key to unlock her potential.

“Being able to work with senior leadership on women’s issues enabled me to build those relationships that helped me advance my career,” said Lewis, who earned her PhD., in management and human resources. “Being part of FEW is a great way to work with command and work outside your area.”

Here are three ways Dr. Lewis used the resources at FEW to develop her career:

Learn New Skills.

Early in her career, a supervisor strongly encouraged Lewis to join a professional organization to help her develop her skills. She chose FEW’s Hoosier Hills Chapter, which continues to have an impressive reputation surrounding its professional development opportunities.

Lewis remembers talking herself into developing a very important leadership skill around the time she became Chapter President of the chapter. “I had really little experience with public speaking,” she said. “I knew I was going to struggle as FEW’s Chapter President.”

But that trepidation didn’t stop her from growing.

“I can remember the first time I had to introduce a speaker in front of 150 people,” Lewis added. “I look back on that with fond memories.”

FEW provides it members with knowledge about the federal system, career development and planning techniques, as well as personal effectiveness and awareness of the broader issue that impact women.

FEW’s annual National Training Program is one of those unique opportunities that every federally employed woman should leverage to advance her own career. This year’s event, “Soaring to New Heights,” will be held July 26-30 at the luxurious Houston Marriott Marquis.

The National Training Program is FEW’s premiere training event that brings together presenters, speakers and attendees from across the country. The dynamic workshops align with the Executive Core Qualifications and fundamental competencies identified by the Office of Personnel Management. The objective is to help prepare FEW members with the tools needed to advance their careers back at their respective federal agencies.

For the first time, FEW has added a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics component to its 2021 National Training Program. It was added to support a diversified workforce inclusive of women in cybersecurity, space and technology, engineering and biochemistry. Women consist of 48% of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but they only represent 26% of computer scientists and 12% of engineers.

Dr. Lewis supports a more diverse workforce with more women involved in various fields of science.

“As the first woman to serve in this role, I understand what this milestone represents to future generations and young girls interested in STEM and business fields,” said Lewis as part of the statement introducing her as CRANE’S new technical director. “It will take passionate people from diverse backgrounds to meet future mission needs.”

Meet New People.

Lewis credits her career advancement, in part, to her ability to build relationships with senior leadership at command. As a member of the Hoosier Hills Chapter, she had been able to connect with high-ranking officials at the Naval Service Warfare Center on common goals, such as creating a better workplace for all, especially women.

In her new position, Lewis is currently working with Hoosier Hills Chapter members on topics involving the virtual workplace and inclusion in the organization’s culture.

“FEW has an opportunity to mold senior leadership in a way that impacts employees,” Lewis said. 

Aside from networking opportunities in the workplace, FEW also offers a similar style of networking with its community outreach programs, which are supported at the local, regional and national levels. Each year, FEW donates it’s time and funds to various nonprofit organizations for the benefit of women, veterans, children and families of federal workers. The organization’s outreach program makes a difference in various activities that assist in educational programs, veterans’ trainings and events that support our members through giving opportunities.

FEW chapters can sponsor a coat drive, donate supplies to local schools, make donations to a local women’s shelter or organize a “sit in” at a local Veteran’s Administration facility.

In a “Spread Some Cheer To Our Troops” card drive for United Soldiers And Sailors of America, FEW members contributed hundreds of holiday cards to share their gratitude with military personnel who serve our nation in the most honorable way.

FEW’s outreach program was created to bring awareness to the many resources available to enrich its members. Programs hosted by the nonprofit’s partners, as well as regions and chapters, give members an advantage in career enhancement tools and knowledge sharing.

Invest In Yourself.

To invest in herself, Lewis went back to school several times through her career, as well as donate her time and talent to help others.

In addition to training and community service, FEW also offers a mentoring program, which offers mentor and mentee opportunities so members can help themselves by helping another.

The exclusive, annual mentoring program begins with the competitive selection of FEW members to participate followed by 12 months of focused learning objectives, webinars, training sessions and direct mentorship by senior leaders with the federal government. To be eligible for the program, a mentee candidate should be a current federal employee and an active FEW member who holds an elected or appointed position at the regional or chapter level.

Mentee applications must be submitted from April 1, 2021 through April 15, 2021. Chosen candidates will be notified in June, and the 12-month event will kick off at the 2021 National Training Program on July 26-30. Mentee graduation service will be held at the 2022 National Training Program the following July.

For more information about the program, prospective mentees and mentors should visit www.FEW.org/mentor.

“It’s great to see what the organization can do for you, but it can only be as strong as the people are willing to give,” Lewis said. “They will only get out of it what they are willing to invest.”