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.”

FEW Celebrates Women’s History Month: Sarah B. Cochran and Frances Payne Bolton

FEW is celebrating the valiant women throughout history for Women’s History Month. FEW will shine a spotlight on some historic figures of our great nation that fought for justice, equality and inclusion. Visit throughout the month of March to read about “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” We continue this week with Sarah B. Cochran and Frances Payne Bolton.

Sarah B. Cochran (1857-1936)

Sarah B. Cochran image courtesy of the National Women’s History Museum

Once called America’s only Coal Queen, Sarah B. Cochran was a coal industry leader and philanthropist in an era when American women couldn’t universally vote or serve on juries. By choosing to go out into the world and do the unexpected, she was able to support women’s suffrage and education, and was the first female trustee of Allegheny College.

Sarah Boyd Moore was born on April 22, 1857 in Fayette County, Pennsylvania to farmers of such humble means that they couldn’t afford enough clothes for her to go to school every day. As a young adult, she became the maid in James Cochran’s home. James was a self-made coal industry leader who was the first to sell coal’s byproduct, coke, commercially. Coke was a key ingredient in the steelmaking process, and the steel and coal industries were about to generate incredible levels of wealth in western Pennsylvania.

James Cochran’s son, Phillip, fell in love and married Cochran on Sept. 25, 1879. On Sept. 21, 1880, Cochran gave birth to their only child, James. When her father-in-law died in 1894, Phillip assumed control of the family business. He believed in Cochran’s intellect and taught her the business. Five years later, he died suddenly of pneumonia as a 49-year-old coal magnate. Their son was the expected representative of the family’s estate but died on March 5, 1901 while studying at the University of Pennsylvania.

Already a vice president in the company, Cochran assumed many of her husband’s business responsibilities and board service roles. Among these were president of the Brown & Cochran Coke Company, Washington Coal & Coke Company, Juniata Coke Company, Dawson Bridge Company and First National Bank of Dawson. She was a founder and stockholder of Cochran Coal & Coke Company of Morgantown, West Virginia and the First National Bank of Perryopolis. The companies did business in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia when Cochran assumed control. Under her leadership, the business grew threefold and expanded to sell coke in England, France, Germany and Mexico. At one point, Cochran was called “the nation’s only coal queen.”

As a widow, Cochran spent eight years traveling in Europe and Asia. Visits to St. James’s Park in London inspired her plans to build her own Tudor mansion, named Linden Hall at St. James’ Park, Pennsylvania. The mansion was built in the vicinity of her childhood home between 1911 and 1913. When it was finished, it had more than 30 rooms, its own railroad stop, as well as a three-panel Tiffany window designed by Agnes Northrop. When 60 Italian stone masons, who did all of the mansion’s stonework, wanted to stay in the US, Cochran sponsored them for citizenship.

Cochran used her position to support women’s suffrage. In 1915, she opened Linden Hall to host a suffrage tea. The fundraiser was advertised in newspapers and drew at least 500 men and women, who listened to Dr. Anna Howard Shaw speak about suffrage and democracy.

Cochran actively supported education. Sometimes by quietly financing higher education for local men and women who expressed an interest in it. In other cases, her support was more public. For example, she funded construction of Cochran Hall, a men’s dormitory at Allegheny College, and donated to Otterbein College, Washington & Jefferson College and West Virginia University. Known as the “Lady-Elect of Allegheny,” she was Allegheny College’s first female trustee, serving from 1908 until her death in 1936. She was also a member of the board of directors of American University in Washington, D.C., and in 1921, the Bethany College Bulletin recorded her contribution for the Sarah B. Cochran Chair of Philosophy at that college.

In 1900 Cochran dedicated a Methodist church in Dawson, Pennsylvania to the memory of her late husband. This church was later destroyed when she presented its congregation with plans for a new, Gothic style stone church. Named for her husband, the Philip G. Cochran Memorial United Methodist Church was officially dedicated on Nov. 20, 1927.  

After Cochran died on Oct. 27, 1936, a memorial service themed “The Ministry of Woman” was held at the Philip G. Cochran Memorial United Methodist Church. The service featured ministers speaking about female Biblical figures and Cochran’s life. Since her death, both the church and Linden Hall were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

By Kimberly Hess | 2017

Frances Payne Bolton (1885-1977)

Photo courtesy of the National Women’s History Museum

Born into a wealthy family, Frances Payne Bolton pursued a life of philanthropy, politics, and social reform. Bolton was a lifelong advocate of education, healthcare and civil rights for African Americans. She is most noted for her contributions to the field of nursing and her work in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On March 29, 1885, Frances Payne Bingham was born in Cleveland, Ohio to a family with a long history of funding charities and public service. Bolton’s grandfathers, William Bingham and Henry B. Payne served in the Ohio State Senate and Payne was also elected to the U.S. Senate.

In 1907, Frances Payne Bingham married Chester Castle Bolton. After marriage, Bolton took on many volunteer activities that enabled her to support and help the nursing profession. She sat on numerous boards including the Visiting Nurse Association and the Lakeside Hospital Training School. As World War I began, Bolton saw the need for greater training and inclusion of nurses into the armed services and urged the government to take action. As a result, the secretary of war created the Army School of Nursing.

After the war, Bolton continued to support the development of nursing as a profession in numerous ways. One of her most important activities at this time was to donate $500,000 to Western Reserve University (later known as Case Western Reserve University) in 1923. She gave the money to the college to create its school of nursing. The school was later renamed the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing to reflect the generous financial support given by Bolton. A firm believer that the field of nursing should be open to all, regardless of race or ethnicity, Bolton helped financially sustain the work of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. Her assistance enabled the organization to continue its work despite financial difficulties during the Great Depression. A large inheritance in 1929 allowed Bolton to set up the Payne Fund, which dedicated financial resources to projects related to education, nursing care and the arts.

During this time, Chester Castle Bolton carried out an ambitious political career in which he served in the Ohio State Senate (1923-1928), before winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1928. Sadly, his life was cut short, when on Oct. 29, 1939, at the age of 47, he died in office. Frances Payne Bolton ran as the Republican candidate in the special election to fill her husband’s vacant position. She won and became Ohio’s first female member of the House of Representatives.

During World War II, Bolton had a lasting impact on the field of nursing. She sponsored the Bolton Act in 1943, which set up the US Cadet Nurse Corps to train nurses for military and civilian roles in wartime. In total, the Act provided $5 million of federal funding to enable women to become nurses. Basic training under this program ran for 24 to 30 months. The Act covered students’ tuition, books and living costs. Funding was open to all qualified students regardless of the color of their skin. As a result, the number of qualified nurses increased more quickly, which enabled the United States to sustain the war effort at home and abroad.

Bolton became greatly involved in U.S. foreign affairs and humanitarian activities after the war. In Congress, she joined the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. She became the first woman to lead a Congressional delegation on a 20,000-mile tour of Africa in 1947. During this trip, Bolton learned about issues facing the countries there, including decolonization, aid relief and healthcare. She continued to make frequent trips to Africa, advocating for democratic systems to be set up in the newly independent countries. At home, she urged the U.S. State Department to form a branch specifically dedicated to aiding African countries. The Bureau of African Affairs was founded in 1958 because of Bolton’s support. She also became very interested in Arab-Israeli affairs and toured Palestinian camps in 1947. President Eisenhower, aware of Bolton’s diplomatic activities, asked her to join a Congressional delegation to the United Nations in 1953. Doing so, made her the first female Congressional delegate to the organization.

Bolton held her Congressional seat from 1940 until 1968, when she was defeated by Charles Vanik, a Democrat. After she lost her seat in the House of Representatives, Bolton retired from Congress. But she continued her charitable work. She sat on a number of boards, including the Tuskegee Institute, the Middle East Institute and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Bolton’s diverse humanitarian efforts in the United States and abroad did not go unnoticed by the U.S. government. In 1976, she received public recognition for her efforts, when President Ford awarded her the National Human Relations Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Frances Payne Bolton died on March 2, 1977 in Lyndhurst, Ohio at the age of 91.

By Dr. Kelly A. Spring | 2017

FEW Celebrates Women’s History Month: Antonia-Hernandez and Stacey Abrams

FEW is celebrating the valiant women throughout history for Women’s History Month. FEW will shine a spotlight on some historic figures of our great nation that fought for justice, equality and inclusion. Visit throughout the month of March to read about ‘Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.’ This week, we are featuring Antonia Hernández and Stacey Abrams.

Antonia Hernández (1948- )

Photo by Mariana Brandman, NWHM Predoctoral Fellow in Women’s History | 2020-2022. Photo credit to California Community Foundation.

According to Antonia Hernández, she “went to law school for one reason: to use the law as a vehicle for social change.” Decades later, she can claim numerous legal victories for the Latinx community in the areas of voting rights, employment, education, and immigration. From legal aid work, to counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, to head of a major civil rights organization, Hernández has used the law to realize social change at every turn.

Antonia Hernández was born in Torreón, Mexico in 1948 to Manuel and Nicolasa Hernández. Her father had been born in Texas, but his family returned to Mexico after government officials forced Mexican Americans to leave the U.S. during the Great Depression due to job shortages. Hernández was the oldest of seven children. When she was eight years old, her family moved to the Maravilla Housing projects in East Los Angeles, where her parents worked in chicken factories, manufacturing, and gardening. Hernández endured taunts of “mojada” (“wetback,” a pejorative term for Mexican immigrants to the U.S.) from her classmates and neighborhood children. Despite the taunting, Hernández worked hard as a child, both in school learning English and on the weekends, selling her mother’s tamales across East L.A. alongside her father. In the summers, the family members were all migrant workers, picking crops from farm to farm. Hernández became politically active at a young age with the support of her father, who drove her to civil rights and Chicano movement protests in the 1960s. Her determination to fight for racial justice would continue through all her future endeavors.

Hernández graduated from Garfield High School in East L.A. and attended East Los Angeles College before she was admitted to UCLA as part of an affirmative action program. There she earned her B.A. in History in 1970, as well as her J.D. at the UCLA School of Law in 1974. Soon after passing the California bar exam, Hernández became a U.S. citizen. Reflecting on her U.S. citizenship in 1985, Hernández told the Los Angeles Times “I love [this country] more than most because I don’t take the rights and privileges of an American citizen for granted. I remembered there was a knot in my throat when I took the oath [of citizenship].”

Committed to working in civil rights law, Hernández began her career as a staff attorney with the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. There she worked on a class-action lawsuit (Madrigal v. Quilligan, 1978) that alleged the USC/Los Angeles County Medical Center conducted sterilization procedures on women who had just given birth and had not consented to the procedures. They lost in court, but the press attention the case garnered led the medical center and the state of California to enact reforms intended to prevent such violations in the future. Hernández then took a position as staff counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1979-1981, the first Latina ever to hold that position.

From the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hernández moved to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), where she served as Regional Counsel in Washington, D.C. In 1985, she became President and General Counsel of MALDEF. As President, Hernández directed the organization’s litigation efforts and advocacy programs as well as managed a multimillion-dollar budget and several field offices. MALDEF pursued important voting rights cases while under Hernández’s leadership. They filed federal suits in California, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan that led to an end to gerrymandering and other discriminatory practices that prevented Latinx candidates from winning elections in those districts. MALDEF also defended The Voting Rights Act of 1965, which Congress expanded to cover Texas and other Southwestern states in 1975. These efforts included an amendment that explicitly outlawed discriminatory election practices and a provision that protected the rights of non-native English speakers. MALDEF also organized nationwide campaigns to promote Latinx participation in the 1990 and 2000 censuses, to better ensure equitable political representation for the Latinx community. Hernández led MALDEF’s legal pursuit of Latinx-majority voting districts across the country, most notably for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors (Garza v. County of L.A., 1990) and a Chicago-area congressional district (King v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 1995).

Stacey Abrams (1973 – )

Photo by Fairfight

Stacey Abrams is a political leader, voting rights activist and New York Times bestselling author. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Democratic Leader, in 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, winning at the time more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Abrams was the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States, and she was the first black woman and first Georgian to deliver a Response to the State of the Union. After witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State’s office, Abrams launched Fair Fight to ensure every American has a voice in our election system through programs such as Fair Fight 2020, an initiative to fund and train voter protection teams in 20 battleground states. In 2021, Abrams was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in the 2020 election. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. In 2019, she launched Fair Count to ensure accuracy in the 2020 Census and greater participation in civic engagement, and the Southern Economic Advancement Project, a public policy initiative to broaden economic power and build equity in the South.

Abrams is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, where she serves on the Subcommittee on Diversity. As a Next Generation Fellow of the American Assembly on U.S. Global Policy and the Future of International Institutions, she also served as a discussion leader, editor, and essay contributor. She was also selected as a Salzburg Seminar Fellow on East Asian Studies, an American Marshall Memorial Fellow, an American Council of Young Political Leaders Fellow, a Council on Italy Fellow, a British-American Project Fellow and a U.S.-Russia Young Leaders Fellow. As the top-ranking Democrat in Georgia, she traveled to and met with leaders in South Korea, Israel and Taiwan, and she worked closely with several members of the consular corps. Her international policy travel includes Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom. Abrams is a member of former Secretary of State John Kerry’s World War Zero bipartisan coalition on climate change. She has been a featured speaker at the Aspen Ministers Forum, the Kerry Initiative-Yale Jackson Institute of Global Affairs, the National Security Action Forum and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as a contributor to Foreign Affairs Magazine.

She is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress. Abrams has also written eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery, in addition to the New York Times best-selling Lead from the Outside and Our Time is Now.

Abrams received degrees from Spelman College, the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and Yale Law School. Born in Madison, Wisconsin, she and her five siblings grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi and were raised in Georgia.”

FEW Celebrates Women’s History Month: Mary Church Terrell and Amelia Jenks Bloomer

FEW is celebrating the valiant women throughout history for Women’s History Month.  FEW will shine a spotlight on some historic figures of our great nation that fought for justice, equality and inclusion. Visit throughout the month of March to read about ‘Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.’ We begin with Mary Church Terrell and Amelia Jenks Bloomer.

Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Mary Church Terrell, a daughter of former slaves, was a member of the Black middle class who used their standing in society to push for racial equality. She was one of the first African American women to earn a college degree, from Oberlin, where she also received a master’s degree. She became a teacher in Washington, DC and went on to be the first African American woman appointed to the school board of a major city. Terrell’s life work focused on the notion of racial uplift, the belief that blacks would help end racial discrimination by advancing themselves and other members of the race through education, work, and community activism

As the co-founder of the National Association of Colored Women, Terrel’s words “Lifting as we climb” became the group’s motto. She joined the women’s suffrage movement, and worked to persuade Black men to support the cause after Black women were sidelined by suffragists like Alice Paul. As she says in The Vote, “The same arguments used to prove that the ballot be withheld from women are advanced to prove that colored men should not be allowed to vote.”

In 1950, at age 86, she challenged segregation in public places by protesting the John R. Thompson Restaurant in Washington, DC. She was victorious when, in 1953, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated eating facilities were unconstitutional, a major breakthrough in the civil rights movement.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer
(1818-1894)

By Arlisha R. Norwood, NWHM Fellow | 2017

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was an early suffragist, editor, and social activist. Bloomer was also a fashion advocate who worked to change women’s clothing styles.

Bloomer was born in Homer, New York. With only a few years of formal education, she started working as a teacher, educating students in her community. In 1840, she married David Bloomer and moved to Seneca Falls, New York. Bloomer quickly became active in the Seneca Falls political and social community. She joined a church and volunteered with the local temperance society. Noticing his wife’s fervor for social reform, David encouraged her to use writing as an outlet. As a result, she started a column which covered a plethora of topics.

In 1848, Bloomer went to the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention. The next year she created The Lily, a newspaper solely dedicated to women. At first, the newspaper only addressed the temperance movement, however due to demand the bi-weekly paper expanded to cover other news. After meeting activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Bloomer started to publish articles about the women’s rights movement. In 1849, Bloomer’s husband was elected Postmaster for Seneca Falls. He immediately appointed his wife as his assistant. Bloomer used her office as makeshift headquarters for the Seneca Fall’s women’s rights movement. 

Bloomer’s most influential work was in dress reform. After noticing the health hazards and restrictive nature of corsets and dresses, Bloomer pushed for women to adopt a new style of dress. The pantaloons, now called Bloomers, not only illustrated a departure from the accepted dress for women, the garments also came to represent activists in the women’s rights movement. The style of dress attracted much ridicule from conservative men and women.

In 1851, Bloomer introduced Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Susan B. Anthony. The meeting set in motion a long-standing partnership between the two activists. In 1853, Bloomer and her husband moved West. While traveling she stopped in many towns and lectured about temperance. She attempted to keep The Lily going, however her move made publishing the paper harder. In 1854, Bloomer decided to sell the paper. Eventually, the couple settled in Council Bluff, Iowa. There, she called on women to become property owners. During the Civil War, Bloomer started the Soldier’s Aid Society of Council Bluffs to help Union soldiers.

Until her death, Bloomer preached on temperance and women’s rights. She served as the President of the Iowa Suffrage Association from 1871-1873. However, because of her relentless dedication to temperance, she often found her ideas at odds with other activists who wanted to focus on other topics in the women’s rights movement. Nonetheless, she never abandoned her commitment to the movement’s agenda. Bloomer passed away at the age of 76 in 1894.

Mentoring: It Works If You Work It

You work hard every day. More importantly, you get things done.

But what about career advancement? What about the next opportunity?

If you heard about a special program that could increase your chances for a promotion by five times, would you give it a look? If the program made you feel more confident and more valued, would you sign up?

What if the opportunity is a mentoring program?

Federally Employed Women (FEW) has launched a mentoring program to support the professional development of emerging leaders, as well as expand their networks and skills.

Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience where valuable knowledge, invaluable experience and astute insight is shared. It offers growth opportunities on professional and personal levels.

Consider the research:

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” 

— Oprah Winfrey

Mentoring programs are a two-way street that can lead to mutually beneficial relationships on a professional and personal level. However, both parties need to have the right mindset for the magic to work.

For example, mentees should realize that mentors are giving up their time and energy to help them. Consequently, mentees should bring four things to ensure that the engagement will be a productive success:

Flexibility – Mentees should clear their schedules and make it easy for them to meet with their assigned mentor. This engagement is the beginning of a long-term relationship. While relationships can be time-consuming and inconvenient at times, the right ones are worth the trouble.

Accountability – Do what you say and say what you mean. Mentees should be fully committed to holding up their end of the bargain. Completing certain tasks by specific dates means you are onboard with the overall effort. Remember, the objective is to advance your career, so follow-through on your part will be required.

Maturity – Healthy relationships include forthright feedback and, in some cases, constructive criticism. Mentees must understand that these discussions come from a good place with the intention of advancing their current standing as a professional.

Game Plan – As a mentee, you are responsible for where your mentoring experience goes. What do you want to develop? Where is your career going? What’s your five-, 10- and 20-year plan? Your mentor will bring a lot of life experience and workplace knowledge to the table, but only you know the desired outcome.

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” 

— Whoopi Goldberg

Aside from mentees, mentors also need to bring several things to the engagement. While the program may center on the mentees, mentors have the opportunity to improve their leadership and communications skills, as well as their network. Let’s face it: Every time you teach another, you teach yourself.

Mentors should make sure to bring the following:

Active Listening – Most people believe communications is all about talking when most of it is about listening and observing. Mentors should focus their attention on their mentee to provide the best outcome. Make the time to fully understand what your mentee wants and needs before sharing your own path.

Feedback – Your background and expertise are the reasons you were invited to the party. Please provide meaningful thoughts through antidotes, stories and experiences so your mentee can learn through you.

Confidentiality – During the course of the program, there could be sensitive information shared. Be mindful. Be kind. Keep it to yourself. Leverage any insight to advance your mentee’s best interest.

Accountability – Mentors also must be accountable to make the program work. Everyone’s time is precious. Commit to the deadlines and dates. Fulfill your deliverables. This is the beginning of a long-term relationship.

“In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”

 — Maya Angelou

FEW’s 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.

You know, you do need mentors, but in the end, you really just need to believe in yourself.” 

— Diana Ross

National Training: 7 Reasons Women Will Soar in 2021

Twenty years ago, Michelle Andrews was working as an administrative assistant.

But then she joined Federally Employed Women (FEW), which helps more than one million women become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program that begins with its national training program.

As a member of FEW, Andrews has served in leadership positions at the chapter, regional and national levels. From 2012-2016, she served as the organization’s national president, which required her to become CEO, CFO and COO for the multimillion-dollar organization.

Today, she has advanced her career as a national program manager of EEO and Diversity at the National Ocean Service.

“The information, knowledge, and skills that I have gained throughout my time with FEW has definitely impacted my career progression and personal growth,” said Andrews, who is serving as chair for this year’s National Training Program. “FEW provided me with unique opportunities that I would have never gained had I not been a member.”

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.

Here are seven reasons why every federally employed woman should attend this year’s national event so they can soar in 2021:

Improve Job Performance

The training program’s attendees receive the necessary training to elevate their job performance. Training with FEW gives opportunities for a greater understanding of job responsibilities within their role, which builds their confidence.

Research from McKinsey & Company in partnership with Leanin.org underscores the challenge that women face when they want to earn a management position for the first time. For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted—and this gap was even larger for Black women (58) and Latinas (71). Women remained in the minority when it comes to entry-level management positions as men held 62%.

FEW’s training provides its members with more resources and insight to break through and advance their career.

Improve Job Satisfaction

Training creates a supportive workplace. It shows your commitment to be better. Learning is the greatest return on your investment.

Higher job satisfaction will get you noticed in the federal ranks. According to a 2019 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, federal employees gave low marks when asked if they were satisfied with their organization (61%), their pay (63%) or their training (57%).

FEW’s training will improve your morale despite your current workplace culture and better equip you for the next career move.

Improve Productivity

More professional development will put you in the position to become more productive. Training with FEW provides hands-on experience and helps to increase efficiency in processes to ensure project success, which in turn will improve your performance.

Research links professional development with productivity.  A study from the National Center on the Education Quality of the Workforce, for example, found that a 10% increase in workforce education leads to a 8.6% increase in productivity. The report compiled data from 3,100 U.S. employers.

In addition, organizations that offer training programs have 218% higher income per employee than companies without formal training, according to the Association Society for Training and Development. These companies also report a 24% higher profit margin.

More STEM Classes

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 48% of the total workforce, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but they only represent 26% of computer scientists and 12% of engineers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for STEM occupations in 2019 was $86,989, compared to the median wage for non-STEM occupations at $38,160.

More Leadership Development

The National Training Program includes a two-day leadership course that will include four different topic areas: 1) Building relationships through collaboration, 2) Cultivating Motivation and Engagement, 3) Managing Change, and 4) Mentoring. One of this year’s workshops, The Human Dimension of Leadership, will provide proven strategies that will allow attendees to develop fellow team members more effectively, as well as resolve conflicts, foster teamwork and increase engagement and productivity. Whether you are transitioning into a higher leadership role or working your way into the executive ranks, the ability to get things done through other people is essential for success as a leader. 

Better Team Building

One of this year’s most anticipated workshop, Building your Bench: Keys to Building a Leadership Pipeline, is designed to equip existing leaders with the tools necessary to select candidates for future leadership positions and help determine how to develop candidates to their maximum leadership potential. Top performing organizations and leaders understand that the ability to select, integrate and develop high level leaders is critical to their organization’s success. 

Almost all surveyed employees and executives (97%) believe lack misalignment within a team impacts a project’s desired outcome. Communications is the glue that keeps teams together. Identifying and supporting the best team members will strengthen your leadership position.

More Influence

One of the most engaging and interactive workshops, The Power of Influence, will cover a compilation of strategies and techniques about organizational intelligence, team promotion, trust-building and leveraging your network. The ability to motivate and inspire others to take action is the distinguishing factor between a leader and a manager. The best leaders are those who can successfully influence up, down and across the organization, impacting business results by driving behavioral change.

To register for this year’s National Training Program, click here. If you have questions, please email us or call us between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. at 800-609-9669.

Seats At The Table: Why More Women Will Lead 117th Congress

The 117th Congress holds a lot of promise for women, in part, because it looks a lot more like us.

Even though last year was tough, the tough got going. Collectively, women took the step toward securing their seat at the table. They turned the presidential primaries in South Carolina and put a new tenant in the White House.

To give the new Administration the Senate along with the House of Representatives, women lead the way again with a sweep in Georgia’s runoff election in January. Now, in the case of a split vote, the deciding vote will be made by a woman – the nation’s first female vice president.

So the stage is set for Federally Employed Women (FEW) to advance its core legislative initiatives that advance working women. “With the first Vice President being a woman, a lot of issues that FEW supports could be addressed,” said Tonya Saunders, FEW’s legislative advocate. “We could see action on all of them.”

Karen M. Rainey, who serves as FEW’s President, expects more success in 2021: “I am honored to work for an organization that help the voices of women be heard and support legislation that support us.” During her tenure, FEW has advocated for legislation that have passed, including S.3749 – Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act (2018), H.R. 6147 – Appropriations Minibus [pay increase] (2018) and Federal Employee Paid leave (2019)

FEW’s legislative agenda includes topics that impact federally employed women directly, as well as women in general:

EQUAL RIGHTS

FEW supports the Equal Rights Amendment that would ensure federal resources would benefit men and women equally, providing all citizens with the opportunity to reach their full potential.

An ERA passage would put women on equal footing in the legal systems of all 50 states, particularly in areas where women have historically been treated as second-class citizens, including in cases of public education, divorce, child custody, domestic violence and sexual assault.

In early 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This action means ERA has reached the minimum of 38 states required by Congress for ratification to the U.S. Constitution when the amendment was passed in 1972.

ERA has already been reintroduced in the 117th Congress, thanks to support from many including Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

EQUAL PAY

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was among the first federal laws in American history to address gender discrimination. Despite the program, women are paid an average approximately 77 cents for every dollar paid to men today, and the numbers are even worse for African American women and Latinas.

FEW acknowledges that much remains to be done to achieve full equality of economic opportunity for women. FEW has advocated for paid parental leave for federal workers, equal pay, ERA and non-discriminatory bills for several congresses.

In 2020, FEW supported H.R. 2474 – Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which passed in February but was rejected by the Senate. The bill was the most important pro-worker labor law reform in more than 80 years, which would 1) provide tougher penalties when employers fire union supporters, 2) end employers’ ability to delay union elections,3) bar employers from holding “captive audience” anti-union meetings, 4) require greater disclosure when employers hire union-busting consultants, 5) implement binding arbitration, 6) ban permanent replacement of strikers and 7) allow unions to wage secondary boycotts and eliminates so called “right-to-work” law.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) leads the charge along with other elected officials.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

FEW supports a zero-tolerance approach to protect the recipients against all forms of sexual harassment, violence and gender discrimination in the workplace.

FEW is seeking congressional action raising awareness, creating safe environments that encourage employees to speak out without fear of retaliation, and providing opportunities for federal agencies to review their policies. 

FAMILY LEAVE

FEW supports paid leave for federal employees so we can care for our families.

FEW believes the U.S. government should be a model employer, and progress will allow our members to appropriately care for themselves or their families without worrying about job security.

In 2020, FEW supported H.R. 2694: The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA), which passed in September. The bill would eliminate and promote women’s health and economic security by ensuring reasonable workplace accommodations for workers whose ability to perform the functions of a job are limited by pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

Regarding COVID-19, FEW supported H.R. 6201 – Families First Coronavirus Response Act last March. The bill, which passed in the House and Senate, required the federal government to provide all its employees with paid sick leave and for employees who are covered under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) with expanded family and medical leave for specific reasons related to COVID-19. The provisions ran from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

PAY RAISE FAIRNESS

FEW supports an efficient and effective government. However, FEW is opposed to a federal hiring freeze and/or reducing the federal workforce through attrition. As reported in an earlier General Accountability Office report, hiring freezes ultimately end up costing more money than they save.

FEW supports legislation that supports pay-raise fairness in the federal workforce. More than 900,000 federal employees make less than $60,000 per year. Modest pay increases are justified by the hardships federal employees have suffered in recent years due to federal government shutdowns.

15 Yoga Terms: A Mental and Physical Primer for Today’s Federal Workers

You spend the whole day hunched over your computer, stressing about deadlines.

You feel like an immovable paperweight. (You don’t even have to budge for a meeting anymore; click a link and start the video conference.)

And your body is talking back to you about this arrangement. Your lower back and chest feel a little tighter. Your more tired than ever, yet you can’t fall asleep at night.

Uncertain times have made anxiety your new bestie. It feel like it takes more energy to network with colleagues and acquire valuable training so you can advance your career.

Want to take charge of the situation? Ready to help your body move forward?

Yoga connects your mind with your body in a way that addresses all the stress and angst—including the concerning medical ailments associated with the pent-up frustrations.

People who practice yoga swear by it. But there’s even some evidence that it can help improve your health.

Physicians organizations say yoga is a good first step when is comes to lower back pain. Yoga can also help people suffering from arthritis, according to nearly a dozen recent studies reviewed by John Hopkins. The practice also may make your heart heathier by reducing inflammation associated with stress.

If you’re still on the fence, there’s plenty more evidence out there.

But if you are ready to change your life, please take a deep breath.

Now, stop…just for a moment. You need to understand something that’s very important—but not often talked about. Yoga is more than a bunch of stretching. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, a culture. Like other cultures, it tends to have its own language.

When you go to your first yoga class, the instructor will probably be throwing around some different words. Sanskrit, which is an ancient language of India, is used often to reference specific poses during class.

To make you feel more comfortable, like you belong—because you do—here is the most used yoga lingo (pronunciations included). Let’s start with the ones you’ve probably heard before and work our way to the tougher ones:

  1. Karma (kar-mah): We all hope to get what we want, but sometimes, we get what we deserve. Karma is the law of cause and effect. You know, what comes around, goes around. Western culture refers to this concept as the “Golden Rule.” In either case, keep it in mind becomes sometimes it’s good and sometimes…not so much.
  2. Chakra (chak-rah): Everyone has seven chakras, or energy centers, from the base of their spine to the crown of their head. It’s believed that each chakra creates a specific spiritual quality that is connected to an emotional state.
  3. Om (ohm): It’s more of a sound than a word. In fact, it is thought to be the origin of all sounds. The chant is typically heard at the beginning and end of yoga classes.
  4. Namaste (nah-mah-stay): This word is said at the beginning or end of yoga class. Say it with a bowed head with palms pressed together at the heart. It acknowledges the inner light within all of us.
  5. Dhamra (dar-mah): It’s considered the foundation of life. It’s believed that dharma helps people live a content life without suffering.
  6. Asana (a-sa-na): It literally means “seat” but has evolved into meaning a physical posture or poses. Yoga poses in Sanskrit end with asana.
  7. Pranayama (prah-nah-yah-mah): This is a breathing exercise, which clears the stress in your body to make way for “prana”—life’s energy.
  8. Savasana (shava-sa-na): Each class typically ends with this relaxation pose—“Corpse Pose”—when you lie of your back with arms and legs extended to the sides, kind of like a snow angel without the snow.
  9. Ujayi (u-jai-yee): This is a type of conscious breathing that relaxes you. Sometimes, it’s referred to as “ocean breath” for the sound you make as you inhale and exhale with a closed mouth.
  10. Bandha (bahn-da): It refers to a muscular move that tones and lifts certain areas of the body, including your pelvic floor muscles, abdominal muscles and throat muscles.
  11. Dristi (drish-ti): This word refers to your focal point when you gaze, which helps with concentration, especially during balancing poses.
  12. Mudra (mood-rah): It’s a movement that impacts the flow of your energy.
  13. Prana (prah-nuh): This word means life-force energy, which you will need to get through this class.
  14.  Shakti (shak-ti): It really refers to the feminine aspect of divine energy.
  15. Vinyasa (vuh-nysaa-suh): It means a combo move, a sequence of two or more asanas. The sun salutation, for example is the most popular vinyasa.

Now that you know the basic lingo, you are ready to improve your health, which is critically important to any born leader.

MLK Day 2021 – A Day On; Not a Day Off

Can you believe it is 2021 and our nation is still dealing with the pandemic and social justice for equality of people?  It is just the first month of the year and so much has already happened.  Now more than ever our nation deserves a day of calmness, civility and peace.  We need “A Day of Service” for every American. In honor of the late Civil Rights leader’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his life and legacy, join FEW as we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday or MLK Day.  We honor his commitment to justice, equality and inclusion.  His life exemplifies how we should conduct ourselves in a world of discourse and disagreements, how we should reflect on the best of ourselves through a worthy and healthy life of purpose.  

MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as “a national day of service” to encourage all us to volunteer to improve our communities.  We believe it is time to begin the work of service for the good of others as we are united in making MLK Day “a day on, not a day off.” 

Although this year is unlike any other; FEW still want you to know that your safety is our priority and due to the COVID-19, FEW National would like to join forces and give the gift of training and education to our fellow members this year.  In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. our goal is to support his belief in education through donating to the FEW Foundation.  We want to demonstrate intelligence plus character.  As Dr. King has stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”  So, just like him, let’s honor him by ensuring we do all what we can to educate and build strong character by making a small investment to the FEW Foundation.  It doesn’t matter the amount and all donations are tax-deductible. We all can easily donate to this worthy cause by visiting www.fewfoundation.org.

Not only will you help members, but you can drive out darkness.  “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why Kind Leaders Float to the Top

Integrity. Honesty. Vision. Humility. Focus. Those are some of the qualities you are likely to associate with a strong leader.

However, kindness probably isn’t one of the traits that comes to mind.

Historically, kindness in the business world has been regarded as a weakness. But that is no longer the case. In fact, scientific studies indicate that the most effective way to lead is to treat others with kindness. Organizations that value kindness actually experience considerable and measurable benefits such as less turnover, lower recruitment costs, higher productivity and happier employees.

However, being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean you are a manger or head of a department or company. There are several ways you can lead in the workplace—by spearheading a project, running a meeting, presenting a new idea or managing a team. That’s why FEW offers a comprehensive program that positions members for professional development and a fulfilling career in the federal workforce.

Kindness has traditionally been one of the most overlooked leadership qualities. Kind leaders don’t force others to follow, rather their good intentions motivate others to follow their lead, creating a strong team. They exude warmth and compassion and recognize that without their team there is no real leadership. Strong leaders are very capable of making difficult business decisions but do so with compassion and sincerity.

Successful leaders share similar qualities. They have clarity and purpose and are determined to encourage others in service to support a cause or goal, influencing and empowering others through their actions and behaviors. They facilitate dialogue and make things happen. They are top-notch communicators who express their expectations and are accountable for their actions. Above all, they lead by example and do so with kindness and a positive attitude. Kind leaders guide others in a positive way, finding common ground and building cohesiveness among team members.

In the workplace, kindness is expressed through compassion, understanding, patience and generosity. In turn, being kind creates a ripple effect, inspiring employees to do more while also building their confidence and commitment to the organization’s mission.

There is strength in kindness and that is why kind leaders float to the top. Being a kind leader is the next innovation in people-led leadership. Kindness is now being recognized as essential to success. Kind leaders are strong leaders. They set clear expectations, promote growth, exude authenticity, provide honest feedback and, most importantly, treat people like people.

One of the most difficult tasks for a leader can often be building consensus. But if you are calm under pressure, optimistic and encouraging, you will keep morale high and float to the top. Afterall, one of the first steps to becoming a successful leader is showing empathy. Kindness sets the foundation for building a closer connection with your team members. That is why FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and leadership skills.

Today, being an efficient leader is more difficult than ever before. With job responsibilities increasing, many employees are self-managing outside the scope of their job descriptions. In addition, hiring and retention are becoming more complicated—team sizes are expanding, and employees are working remotely.

As a leader, you are often judged on whether or not you are getting the job done—but are you doing it with kindness? That is the new measure of success.

Different situations require distinct types of leadership, but kindness will always have a role. To join the exclusive club of kind leaders, set a positive example for others to follow. That’s where your integrity, honesty, vision, humility and focus come into play.

Afterall, we are all happier when we act in service to others. Being an effective leader means constant reflection, personal development, collecting and responding to feedback from the team and taking action.

Whatever your organizational role is, make your mark with kindness.

More than anything, treating others with kindness is the right thing to do. We take our cues from leaders, managers and colleagues and kindness begets kindness.

FEW helps more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with its four-pillar program: training, legislation, diversity and compliance.

For more information, visit few.org.

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