Kimberly Smith knew what she was getting into.
From the very beginning, she knew Federally Employed Women was more than another organization.
It was about women standing on the shoulders of other women for more than 50 years.
“The primary thing that makes FEW special is its legacy,” Smith said. “All active employees today, regardless of federal connection, have benefited from FEW’s work over the past 50-plus years. This organization is a pillar within this country’s employment structure. It is a part of the foundation that allows for progression and equal employment opportunities and a myriad of other benefits for both federal and non-federal employees. It’s the heart of every member in FEW that makes it a national powerhouse.”
So when Smith was asked to lead FEW’s internal communications publication, News & Views, she understood the responsibility of keeping the nation’s members engaged and moving forward.
In 2021, she received a FEW President’s Award for her outstanding effort.
“This awardee is passionate and compassionate, determined and soft-hearted with boundless energy for FEW,” said FEW National President Karen Rainey during the award ceremony. “We all strive for acceptance, and recognition is a reflection of belonging, a basic human need. Her actions for FEW challenged us all to demonstrate the best FEW has to offer with resources, activities and information. Her work demonstrated next-level professionalism in elevating our online communications with members, partners, friends of FEW, in fact, the entire world.”
During Smith’s first year as editor of News & Views, she changed the focus of the content so it was about looking ahead. She also created a more holistic approach to provide members with tangible tools to be productive throughout the year. Today, the publication focuses on a range of topics, including goal-setting, mentoring, health habits and skill-building.
In every issue, Smith writes her own article that concludes with a challenge to the reader to implement the theme into their daily lives. One of her recent articles, for example, was about the indigenous way of giving, which encompasses a holistic community mindset. Her article challenged members to incorporate that mindset into their activities and presence during the holiday season.
In addition to inviting FEW members to write articles for the publication, she also added a membership spotlight, where anyone can nominate a FEW member to be highlighted in an upcoming issue. She challenged FEW members to highlight the individuals who they felt were the best members that FEW has to offer.
Since joining FEW in 2018, Smith has made an intentional effort to use the organization as a tool to advance her career. She used FEW to hone her skills and advance her education, which have created opportunities for her to participate in career-changing events.
Because of her work with FEW, Smith has been invited to speak to large audiences as a young professional. She has delivered lectures to top-tier organizational leadership within her region. She has taken the skills learned from working with the national board, FEW’s national training programs, the virtual leadership summits and the regional trainings to enhance her efficiency in her current position. Her experience at FEW has built her confidence to stand behind her work and present her ideas and recommendations to upper management.
Smith said FEW is a truly special organization. “The incredible story of this organization’s leadership and its commitment to improving the lives of others is astounding,” she said. “To sit in a room with these ladies, who all have incredible stories, will give you a sense of empowerment and strength that you didn’t know you were missing or didn’t know you were wanting. There is a sisterhood and bond within the FEW family that I have yet to witness in any other organization. Each member comes to FEW with skills and networks for the greater good of FEW. Each member in whatever professional career level is willing to extend a hand out to help a fellow member up, to SOAR together to new heights.”
So, what would Smith say to federally employed women who are interested in joining the association?
“We get in your DNA!” said Smith, who parrots President Rainey’s comment at the SE Region’s NTP meeting.
She added: “The beauty of FEW is that its national and international presence can provide aid to a member’s need with the simple dial of a phone or click of an email. The members in FEW and especially the leadership really are intentional about stripping away the barriers found within the professional capacity. They are intentional about creating a space for a true bond to take place—for relationships to be built upon the human aspect and then enhanced by professional networking.
“So I would say to anyone remotely interested in joining an organization with the desire to build camaraderie, effect change, develop personal and professional skills and/or give back, you need to look no further than FEW.”