How Leadership Excellence Helped Carla Hamilton Swiftly Climb the Ladder

Carla Hamilton believes in Federally Employed Women (FEW).

In fact, she uses the association every day to build her career and do her part to diversify the upper ranks in government.

Thanks to her contributions, Hamilton recently won FEW’s prestigious Allie Latimer Award. This overall achievement award recognizes an extraordinary grassroots effort working to achieve FEW’s mission. Latimer was the first woman and the first African American to serve as general counsel of a major U.S. federal agency. To bring federal government into compliance with the Civil Rights Act, she founded FEW.

Since joining FEW and leveraging its training, mentoring and networking opportunities, Hamilton has been promoted through three transitions at the federal level, going from a GS-4 to the equivalent of a GS-14/15. “By participating with FEW,” she says, “you can translate the knowledge, skills and abilities into career assets.”

So, how did FEW help her climb the ladder?

Well, FEW gave her leadership opportunities to grow professionally and personally.

For starters, she served as the Chapter President for the North Alabama Chapter from 2019-2022. At least 25% of her chapter members have received promotions or firm job offers under Hamilton’s leadership excellence.

Hamilton piloted the revitalization of the 50-year-old chapter during a national pandemic by nearly doubling its membership significantly in size and retention rate of 100%. She used grassroots organization skills during one of America’s most challenging times in history to create a chapter brochure, which received approval from FEW’s National Publications Committee and National President, to engage with prospective new members about the benefits of joining FEW. She also and motivated her Chapter to host a virtual membership drive called “How FEW Can Help You Pace Through a Pandemic!”

In 2021, Hamilton added another title to her resume: Assistant Regional Manager for FEW’s Southeast Region. She quickly established a quarterly initiative where regional Chapter Presidents could pair with other Chapter Presidents to support and learn from each other. This effort also enhanced the networking and relationships between the Chapters. Ultimately, this led to more Chapter Presidents attending the Southeast Region activities and more members within the region seeking training and learning opportunities. 

Hamilton said servant leadership, which is a big part of her leadership style, helped her win team members and achieve impressive accomplishments. “Servant leadership is being right there with members, letting them know you have their back,” she says. “I believe in being in the trenches with your members.”

Hamilton’s strategic leadership spearheaded a recruitment competition on the regional level called “The FEW Pursuit!” The goal was to create some fun and friendly recruitment competition during the month of April, which is FEW Membership Month The winning chapter received two free 2021 Southeast RTP registrations.

In her training and mentoring work, Hamilton relies heavily on the Time Management Matrix (Covey, Merrill, and Merrill, 1994), which sorts activities into four quadrants: urgent, not urgent, important and not important. In fact, she prints out the spreadsheet and puts it on her desk so she can prioritize her day and week. “This is probably how I was able to do so much for the last two years,” she says. “Also don’t forget to manage timewasters and set boundaries for digital wellness.”

She believes her biggest accomplishment to date, however, was playing an integral role with launching a very successful inaugural FEW Mentoring Program. The program is a 12-month training opportunity for members who aspire to become effective leaders within FEW and to build their network in the government. Hamilton started as a committee member but stepped up and became the key leader of  FEW’s Mentoring Program when the Special Assistant to the President for Mentoring gave notice due to an unexpected circumstance. Within the final three months, several practice sessions had to occur in preparation for cohort #1’s graduation and final presentations had to be delivered to the FEW National Board of Directors.

Hamilton also believes in the power of mentoring. When she recruits mentors, she asks for 30-60 minutes of their time. Then, she prepares for their sessions  well in advance to send the message that they won’t be wasting their time. “Mentors don’t have a lot of time,” she says. “I let them know that this person is serious.”

Like any serious person looking to move forward, she also has an elevator pitch to encourage other federally employed women to advance their careers.

“If your future is not becoming,” Hamilton says, “you should be coming to FEW!”