FEW Members Grow Professionally with Mentoring Program

As a federal employee, Deana Mastin continually looks for growth and leadership opportunities.

So, she joined Federally Employed Women (FEW) and continues to leverage the organization as a tool to build her career.

She recently graduated from FEW’s Mentoring Program, which taught her teamwork, leadership, and decision-making skills.

“It was a valuable experience,” said Mastin, who is a Program Specialist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “I was able to work with women from several different FEW chapters throughout the U.S., at various career levels, and work with FEW National Board executives. It provided a safe space and dynamic learning experience.”

FEW’s Mentoring Program is a competitively selective mentor and mentee training opportunity for members who aspire to become effective leaders within the organization or at work and build their professional network for career advancement in the Government. The one-year program pairs applicants with a senior leader in the Federal Government.

There are focused area requirements and learning objectives that must be completed to obtain the full benefit of the program. Participants receive additional development through webinars, guest speakers, and completion of a team project.

“I would recommend FEW’s Mentoring Program to others, as I have in the past,” Mastin said. “I recommended it to our former Chapter President who is now currently enrolled. I would motivate members to participate by encouraging them and explaining that this is a leadership program offering personal career building skills (e.g., interviewing, resume-writing, and creating individual development plans ) and a variety of leadership activities (i.e., presentations, public speaking, team-building, leading change).

According to a recent survey, 63% of women report that they’ve never had a formal mentor in their career. Fortunately for FEW members, mentoring is only one of the benefits the organization offers to help members advance their career goals.

FEW provides training with knowledge about the federal system, career development and planning techniques, personal effectiveness, and awareness of the broader issues that impact women. In addition to mentoring, FEW provides member opportunities to network and develop mutually beneficial, professional relationships that help build careers. Members can also benefit from community outreach at the chapter and regional levels, giving back to communities, and sparking fellowship among members.

“FEW has provided me with the opportunity to gain skills that my regular job did not through participating in projects, teams, public speaking, developing presentations, leading people, building coalitions and planning,” Mastin said. “By providing these opportunities in a safe and dynamic learning space, I have been more motivated to take risks and challenges when others were not willing; to encourage others to take a chance and ‘do it afraid’ while standing beside them.”

As President-elect and former Vice President of FEW’s Seas and Skies Chapter at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), Mastin said she has learned some very important lessons about her career: “ ‘It’ starts with me. How I show up, step up, and pull up others. No one can do it alone. You have to be vulnerable and humble enough to ask for help when you need it. You have to recognize the strengths others have and encourage them to use those strengths, know their value, and be willing to ‘take a seat at the table.’”

If you could use a professional boost or assistance in developing more focused career goals, join our community today. We can do more together. The new cohort for the 2023 Mentorship Program will begin later this year. Look for an email from FEW about the open application process, coming soon. If you have questions about FEW’s Mentoring Program, contact mentoring@few.org.

Getting More With FEW

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. Since 1968, the nonprofit has advocated for equity and diversity for women. FEW works for the advancement of women in the Government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight.

The non-profit advocacy group offers a legislative benefit by representing federal employees’ concerns before legislative and judicial bodies. FEW also recognizes congressional members who support our agenda.

In addition, FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers, while increasing diversity by examining demographics of the workforce. The organization also works with federal agencies to help deliver a more equitable and diverse workforce. FEW’s compliance efforts allow it to monitor the progress made by the Federal Government.

Military Veteran Highly Recommends FEW’s Mentoring Program

As a retired United States Air Force veteran, Lametrice S. Sims understood the importance of continuous professional development beyond her military career, which led to her joining Federally Employed Women (FEW).

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. Since 1968, the nonprofit has advocated for equity and diversity for women. FEW works for the advancement of women in the Government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking, and invaluable insight.

As a graduate of FEW’s first Mentoring Program, Ms. Sims highly recommends FEW membership to others so they can invest in their future by applying for and participating in this life-enriching program. Although, we live in a digital world where most things are one click away, Sims expressed, “The most valuable knowledge can only be gained through one’s shared personal experiences.” FEW uses resumes to match senior-level mentors with complementary mentees, aligning interests, backgrounds, or goals. The mentees receive a copy of their assigned mentor’s career bio and the pair then follow up with an initial meeting via Zoom.

“This six-month collaboration definitely supported FEW’s commitment to assisting the advancement of women in the Federal Government,” Sims said. “As a retired Air Force veteran and a 14-year federal civil service employee, I can attest to the growth of my professional network from the relationships established with other mentees and my assigned mentor, who agreed to continue our mentor-mentee relationship beyond graduation.”

Today, Sims is a Senior Contract Specialist with the United States Department of the Navy-Supervisor of Shipbuilding (SUPSHIP) Gulf Coast, in Pascagoula, Mississippi. When asked, what were the three things she learned from being a part of the FEW Mentoring Program, Sims replied, “Participation in FEW’s inaugural Mentoring Program provided me refresher training in the subject areas of (1) goal setting/career planning, (2) continuous skills development, and (3) networking. As a professional development facilitator, it is imperative that I continue to build on what I already know. I want to be open to engaging new ideas and perspectives through collaboration with others while pursuing lifelong learning that will result in my continued growth and development,” she said.

In addition to the mentoring program, FEW has helped Sims supplement her military training in different leadership roles within the organization at the local, regional and national levels. To date, she has held the following leadership positions: FEW’s Southeast Region Newsletter Editor, first-ever North Alabama Chapter Newsletter Editor, two-term Chapter-Vice President, Training Chair, Diversity Chair, Steering Committee Member, and Chapter/Regional Training Facilitator.

As the Vice-President/Diversity Chair for FEW’s North Alabama Chapter, Sims has been afforded the rewarding opportunity to network with other professionals who have contributed to the enhancement of her interpersonal skills. She has gained insights to the professional needs and interests of others, allowing her to support their advancement beyond the roadblocks, whether seen or unforeseen.

As a facilitator of past FEW local/regional training workshops and programs, she fulfilled her passion for helping others, providing innovative and interactive training on a variety of subjects designed to offer all attendees a clear understanding of the learning objectives and training goals. Sims’ leadership style encourages healthy conversations and decisions, while helping workshop participants stay on track toward achieving their desired goals.

Sims strongly encourages military veterans (women and men) to join FEW for the advancement of their continued military/civilian careers. “The FEW experiences are wonderful,” Sims said. “Consider applying for FEW’s Mentoring Program – it’s a great start! As an ambassador and recent graduate of FEW’s Mentoring Program, I can testify to the endless benefits of participating.”

About FEW

FEW members experience a comprehensive program that positions them for professional development and a fulfilling career in the federal workforce. Consider how the association’s experience helps advance its members:

  • Training: FEW provides members with knowledge about 1) the federal system, 2) career development and planning techniques, and 3) personal effectiveness and awareness of the broader issues that impact women. The nonprofit produces premiere training on the national, regional, and chapter levels.
  • Mentoring: FEW offers mentoring opportunities to advance professional development and senior-level leadership skills through the year.
  • Networking: FEW delivers opportunities for members to network and develop mutually beneficial, professional relationships that will help them advance in their careers.
  • Community Outreach: FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter level that give back to communities, sparking fellowship among members.
  • Legislation: FEW represents federal employees’ concerns and interests before legislative and judicial bodies. We also produce a “scorecard” that recognizes congressional members who support our non-partisan agenda.
  • Diversity: FEW develops strategies to identify and eliminate barriers and increase diversity by examining the demographics of the workforce, including socioeconomic status, communication, thinking styles, and family composition.
  • Compliance: FEW works with Federal agencies to help deliver a more equitable and diverse workforce. We monitor the progress made by the Federal Government in achieving equal employment opportunities evidenced by adherence to statutory civil rights protections.
  • Member benefits: FEW offers various member benefits including congressional advocacy, legal consultations, career tips and a job bank, member spotlights, financial services, a nationally distributed newsletter, scholarships, awards, and discounts on education and training.

If you are a veteran who is thinking about your next career move, join our community today. Leverage FEW as a tool to build a better path with long-term career goals.

Start the New Year With Balance, Gratitude, and a Growth Mindset

Dorene Matheis, Chief Learning Officer at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, loves her life. She is the leader of a high-performing team, the mother of two adult sons who make her very proud, one-half of a dynamic Army veteran couple, an effective goal-setter, and an eternal optimist. She has experienced career highs that many of us only dream about, yet she coaches and mentors others, empowering them to embrace their own dreams. How does she manage the workload, expectations, and her own well-being? Let’s start the New Year taking a page from Dorene’s playbook, as we learn more about this trailblazing leader.

Dorene is a patriot in every sense of the word. She finds joy in watching the New England Patriots win games. When she’s not engrossed in football, you might find her hiking, reading, riding her motorcycle, playing trivia games, knitting, or traveling. On the one hand, she knows how to have a great time. On the other hand, she is serious about getting work done.

Dorene’s seriousness was evident when she recruited herself into the United States Army. She resolved to become a legal specialist and calculated the entrance exam score needed to achieve that goal. She studied hard for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. In her own words, “I was a recruiter’s dream!”. She prepared for the exam, shared her plan with the recruiter, aced the test, and signed the necessary paperwork. Dorene’s efficiency in action continued to be an asset as she joined the military and eventually landed in federal civilian work.

Having a spouse who was also active in the military was challenging for Dorene and Bryant, yet they carved out time for each other and their two sons. This required constant sacrifice, reconfiguring plans, and being stretched to their limits, but they worked together to make it happen. Because they had been married for six years prior to Dorene’s decision to enlist, they had time to plan together, manage expectations, and move forward in sync with each other’s goals. Dorene admits it took years to mature in achieving balance, but she shares the wisdom she has learned along the way.

I am committed to being fully present for whatever I’m doing either at work or in my home life. I believe we earn our time off (e.g. leave time) so we should be able to enjoy that time without distraction. For me, scheduling everything and getting it on the calendar is key to feeling like it’s on track so I’m not continuing to think about it. Balance for me also means empowering and trusting others to do their work or to back me up when I’m not there.

While sometimes feeling stretched to capacity at home and work, Dorene’s optimism shines. With empathy and gratitude, she has created a work culture that breeds passion, enthusiasm, precision, and excellence. Team meetings provide the weekly platform for colleagues to thank each other, offering kudos and praise, and creating an overall sense of unity in their collective mission. The meetings only get better when there is a holiday to celebrate or a vacation story (complete with photos) for the team to enjoy. As a leader, if your only achievement is having your team love the time they spend together, you have accomplished quite a feat. Dorene has done this and more. She set a standard of instituting and abiding by Team Norms while establishing and growing the USPTO Leadership Academy. Her dedicated team of learning professionals have collaborated to transition their interactive and engaging training approach to the virtual environment, carefully maintaining a high-level of camaraderie and caring for one another as they work.

Of course, things do not always go as planned. Having a willingness to accept responsibility and demonstrate grace during disappointing times are qualities of an ideal leader. At the time when she retired from the military, Dorene had reached the positions of Chief Warrant Officer Four and Chief, Administrative Division in the Office of the Judge Advocate General and US Army Legal Services Agency. Prior to that, however, she found herself in a situation that forced her to reevaluate her steps and shift gears.

There was a time when I was passed over for a position that I thought I’d been prepared for by my leadership and my mentors and I thought it was a given. But it wasn’t, and a colleague was offered the position instead. Suddenly, it seemed like my entire career path had been wiped away and I didn’t know what was next for me. It was hard to resist feelings of betrayal and a loss of trust in others. I shared my disappointment with those I did trust, I reflected on what was most important to me, and I established new goals for myself and for my career. Looking back, it worked out so very well for me and was a big lesson in not getting too comfortable in a fixed mindset. It forced a growth mindset in me and was a perfect example of the adage, “what got you here won’t get you there.”

Dorene attributes her successful agility to developing a growth mindset and being open to change. To her fellow FEW members and colleagues, she passes along this career guidance:

1. When opportunities present themselves, sincerely consider walking through those doors. Many of her career decisions were introduced by others who saw her potential and challenged her to do something different. Be grateful for being seen and given the opportunity!

2. Likewise, when you recognize potential in others, encourage them to take bigger strides toward career-building activities like seeking a detail or doing an unusual assignment that broadens their skills, experience, and network.

3. Know your worth and be confident in it when making career decisions.

Starting the New Year with a growth mindset will allow us to move forward more strategically in our careers. Nothing (and no one) will be able to bring us down, despite circumstances that sometimes play out differently than we hoped. We may not share Dorene’s experiences, but we can take away quite a bit from her story. Perhaps we can even sing along to her favorite empowerment song, “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical Wicked. “I’m through accepting limits ’cause someone says they’re so. Some things I cannot change but ’til I try, I’ll never know…”

Like Dorene, let balance, gratitude, and a growth mindset ground you as you rise, leveling up for success in 2023.

Leading with an Indomitable Heart

Lauren Aggen is an Equal Employment Manager with the Defense Finance Accounting Service. As an advocate and a person with a disability, she is grateful for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Lauren has worked hard to broaden others’ understanding about topics such as Schedule A (a special hiring authority for individuals with an intellectual disability, a severe physical disability, or a psychiatric disability), work-life balance for employees with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP), and the benefits of employee resource groups. While she knows there is more work to be done in providing opportunities for people who are differently abled, she leads a pursuit for equity with compassion, understanding, and the heart of a boy from Austin, Texas.

One of the greatest gifts Lauren ever received was her donated heart. Eight days after she was born, she underwent a life-saving surgery where doctors transplanted the new heart. This was a dramatic rescue story complete with a series of miraculous events and a selfless doctor who braved a snowstorm to deliver the donated heart before it became unusable. “Baby Lauren” went from having three days left to live to making a full recovery. The heart transplant operation was made possible through the sacrifice of a nameless donor family who lost their infant son to sudden infant death syndrome. Lauren feels the weight and responsibility of knowing her life was saved at the expense of another family’s tragic loss. She and her family are eternally grateful for this priceless gift of life. While Lauren was only a baby and does not remember the events as they unfolded, this experience shaped every facet of her life and how she chooses to pay it forward at home, at work, and in the community.

Lauren attributes her strength of character to a loving family: two parents who handled multiple medical conditions and her life-threatening circumstances with unbelievable faith and a fun yet protective older brother who took her under his wing as they grew up. She also speaks of an incredible “village” of people in the community that has been a source of support throughout the years. Despite growing up with the limitation of hearing loss and with many restrictions such as not socializing with other children who had chickenpox, taking multiple medications every day, and enduring various kinds of medical tests and procedures, Lauren is a confident, “glass half-full” kind of woman. She chooses to find the bright sight of every situation. She is full of energy and humor, enjoying visiting farmers’ markets and dressing up to attend theatrical performances. As a teenager, she became deathly ill and began writing her personal story. When Make A Wish Foundation decided to grant her a wish, instead of asking to visit Disneyworld or meet a famous person, Lauren requested to publish her autobiography. She authored the book, Austin’s Gift: The Life of a Grateful Organ Recipient, prior to making another amazing recovery.

Lauren attended the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Ever an advocate, she was a Student Ambassador in the Admissions Office. She was also a speaker before eight different Congressional offices in Washington D.C., where she briefed the committee representatives about her successful experiences at (NTID/RIT) and her passion for organ donation. Later, Lauren was offered an internship at the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office. As a Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) student in the EEO Office, Lauren developed an informational newsletter for the Headquarters Army Sustainment Command. The publication covered topics such as the Mother’s Nursing Program, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, differences between Military and Civilian culture, and women’s equality. Since her time working in federal service began, Lauren has been honored with the Commander’s Award for Civilian Service, an Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, the Assistant Secretary of the Army coin, an Outstanding WRP Recruiter Award, Two Star General Notes, and the privilege of enjoying a luncheon with a four-star general.

Lauren continues to lead as she looks for ways to improve life for people with disabilities. Her “Bucket List” of equity improvements in the Government and the community include the following:

  • Create a system where people with disabilities may apply and undertake detail opportunities to other offices and be directly promoted under Schedule A hiring authority so they can achieve their maximum potential
  • Create a marketing campaign for the Department of Defense (and perhaps one day for all of the Government) to educate students at colleges and universities about federal civilian positions
  • To see all individuals with disabilities given needed accommodation so they can thrive in the workforce
  • To encourage continued improvements in technology to advance software for better office interactions between those with disabilities and their colleagues
  • To raise awareness that new inventions are needed to accommodate new disabilities as they arise
  • Outside of the Government: for all movie theaters to provide closed captioning on the screen

For anyone with a disability searching for federal employment opportunities, Lauren offers the following advice:

“No one can take away your education. Get an education. Seek a mentor, update your resume, network, don’t give up applying for positions, seek programs within the Government such as WRP, and SMILE!”

For more information on Schedule A hiring authority, visit: https://www.usajobs.gov/Help/working-in-government/unique-hiring-paths/individuals-with-disabilities/

Learn more about organ donation here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/organ-donation/art-20047529

Find Lauren’s autobiography here: https://www.amazon.com/Austins-Gift-Grateful-Organ-Recipient/dp/0984144765

The Transferable Skills of Motherhood and Military Service

Skills of Motherhood
Skills of Military Motherhood

A closer look at our National President, Pamela H. Richards

How does motherhood prepare a young recruit for service to the United States Government? How does serving in the military prepare a soldier for federal civilian service? As I sat down with FEW National President, Pamela H. Richards, several things became clear. Richards is a protector, a servant-leader, a loyal worker, and an inspiring role model. The knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) Richards acquired from her experiences as a mother and a soldier set the stage for her to shine as a domestic leader. Lean in, as we take a closer look at our National President.

Defying the odds and accepting the call of service

In her youth, Richards always dreamed of being a police officer and serving in the military. All of her uncles served in the military, and she wanted to follow in their footsteps. Enlisting in the United States Army offered her a “two-for-one” deal, when she became a military police officer.

As a young single mother in Roxboro, North Carolina, Richards knew the military would provide a secure and abundant life for her and her son, who was three years old when she entered boot camp. She was familiar with Census Bureau statistics painting a grim outlook for single-parent households, many of which lived in poverty. She was also determined to challenge and disprove the myth that African American boys raised by single mothers inevitably become juvenile delinquents by the age of 16.

While her vision and path were clear, Richards cites leaving her son to enter basic training as one of the hardest decisions she has ever made. She resolved to trust her “village” in taking care of Jonathan, whom she did not see for 13 weeks while she completed basic training. Torn between competing desires of wanting to be present in her son’s life yet wanting to give him better opportunities, she moved forward, first to Alabama and then to Texas. After completing basic training, reuniting with her son, and permanently relocating to San Antonio, Richards paved the way for her son to travel the world and have thrilling experiences to share in school. The proud mom shares, “Jonathan has more stamps in his passport than I do.” Jonathan is now the innovative owner of a successful film production company.

KSAs acquired: grit, determination, resilience, servant leadership, the art of sacrifice, boldness, making difficult judgment calls, and an ability to defy the odds.

Building strong networks

As a young soldier, Richards spent time in Europe, where she was forced to build a new circle of emotional and spiritual support. Her fondest memories include the network of strong women who served as role models. These warrior women encouraged Richards to persevere in college classes while in the military, never giving up on herself or her dreams, and always remembering her son as the reason why she needed to excel. Richards resolved to give her son a life beyond his “wildest dreams” and a standard of living to surpass. Though she was deployed for a year without him, she made wonderful friends and connections.

These networks also helped to weather the biggest challenge Richards faced in the military: repeatedly having to prove herself and her worth. She was one of only a few women in her platoon, which was consistent with the number of women throughout the Army at that time. In the male-dominated scene, Richards found solace and inspiration in these rare female friendships. Her positive attitude and willingness to take on duties that others were less willing to do led to opportunities to protect her platoon from physical danger. How interesting the Army selected a mother, whose primal response to threats was protecting those in her circle of care. Richards proved she was a loyal soldier entrusted to protect her platoon. 

KSAs acquired: networking, empathy, loyalty, teambuilding, perseverance, positive attitude, trust, physical security, and leading with love

From Secretary to Manager in Civilian Federal Work

President Richards and FEW Vice President for Policy and Planning, Carla Hamilton, are alike in their ability to skip several General Schedule (GS) levels in their federal careers. Richards masterfully rose from a GS 5 to a GS 9 level as she transitioned from an entry-level secretary position to accepting the role of an Inspector General. She credits this climb to the criminal justice classes she took prior to applying for the job.

How did Richards move into management with “no prior experience”? As she continued to climb the ranks of civilian service, Richards discovered Federally Employed Women (FEW). She joined FEW and quickly became involved in leadership with the Federal Triangle Chapter in Washington, D.C. After fulfilling the role of Chapter President and grooming her successor, Richards ascended to lead as Regional Manager for FEW’s DC Metro Region. During her government management interview, Richards shared her experiences of leading 26 chapters in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico with over 900 members and a fiscally sound budget. Richards remembers the strong female networks she experienced in the military and continues to pay it forward through her leadership with FEW. As a Supervisory Investigative Research Analyst, she empowers and coaches her employees, encouraging them as she has been encouraged along the way. 

KSAs acquired: kindness, generosity, humility, recruitment, teambuilding, leadership, management, coaching, mentoring, organizational savvy

Madame President, thank you for your service!

~ Communications Chair, Ivana Miranda

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!”

How to Pick the Best College Courses to Advance Your Federal Career

Looking for reasons to go back to school and advance your career in the federal workforce?

Here’s one: Education pays.

Workers with a bachelor’s degree make, on average, $15,000 more than those with an associate degree. Federal workers with a master’s degree or higher do even better, federal statistics show.

There’s more.

Beyond a salary boost, an advanced degree is an effective bargaining chip. Hiring managers in the federal workforce traditionally make higher offers and grant more promotion opportunities to those with more education. Also, many federal positions, including those in law, medicine or the military, require constant recertification and retraining.

FEW knows this well.

We have helped more than one million women in the military and civilian workforce become strategic leaders with a four-pillar program that emphasizes the importance of continuing education. Our Virtual Leadership Summit is our showcase event underscoring our commitment to leadership training.

And this is just one of many scholastic options at your immediate disposal. Here’s another: Continuing your education at an award-winning university.

Here are some proven tips to get your started. 

Utilize Your Career Services Office

While it’s important to study a subject you enjoy, the main reason you’re back to hitting the books and racing to make it to class is because of your career progression.

You want to take it someplace it hasn’t been yet: higher.

The best colleges and universities offer a range of subjects and courses to help you reach new career heights, so it’s essential to research what’s right for you.

And you don’t have to go at it alone.

Career services at colleges and universities help students align their coursework with the specific job positions that match their career direction. These services also help you:

  • Make connections with industry leaders that can be more difficult to make on your own.
  • Find mentors who can offer guidance about a chosen career field.
  • Speak with an executive employed by a business in your desired industry.

Career services let you know the specific skills hiring managers want from job candidates like you.

Think About the Topics You Need to Study

It’s important to enroll in classes that touch on the topics you need to master to work in the federal department you desire.

For instance, for public administration positions in the federal workforce, enroll in classes that teach public budgeting, financial administration, public policy and community analysis, experts advise.

Alternatively, if you want to extend your career in public health (one of the fastest-growing areas for employment in the federal government following the pandemic), you should enroll in specialized classes that discuss occupational health and safety. Examples include courses in comparative healthcare systems, environmental health and epidemiology.

Consult your career services office to get detailed insight into the specific course curriculum you need to take.

Research Converting Work Experience into College Credit

Many colleges and universities offer nontraditional students, such as working federal employees, class credit for vocational experience.

There’s often a credit cap limit, which varies by school. But, the benefits of converting your work experience into much-needed college credit cannot be beaten. You can skip unnecessary courses, graduate faster than your peers and often pay less than they do.

And, credit might not just be limited to how many years you’ve been on the federal payroll. You can also reportedly receive credit for specific career accomplishments, professional certifications, military training and even volunteer work, depending on the college or university.

Incoming and current adult students can start this process by speaking with an academic advisor, visiting the career services office or researching their school’s website. 

It’s a bonus if your school offers such an advantage.

Consider Whether to Attend College Online or Onsite

How do you best learn and work: onsite or online?

And which learning method can your job and personal life best accommodate?

You will need answers to these questions before enrolling – in college to earn your degree, certificate or professional credential.

Some federal employees who return to class learn best in a traditional, on-campus, in-person setting. There are fewer distractions, they say. Stronger focus. And all the tools and space they need to create a tightly focused, hands-on learning experience are front and center.

No kids or barking dogs. No ringing cell phones.

However, with the right online college or university, federal employees returning to school have greater control over their class schedule and work time. Should work responsibilities fluctuate—and for federal employees, they always do—so can study time. Commutes to school are eliminated, saving time and fuel costs. Even your networking opportunities can increase through FEW and the proper college course selection.

It’s all about what works best for you and where you want to take your career in the federal workforce next.

Look Into Ways to Make College More Affordable

For many federal employees, tuition costs determine whether returning to school is right for them. It’s an investment in their budget and time.

There are ways to lighten the financial load. For example, scholarships and grants can be fantastic options to help you pay for tuition and other college-related expenses.

The right online college or university will offer federal employees the academic tools they need to excel professionally in the federal workforce. They will also provide cost-effective tuition rates and plenty of scholarship and federal grant options to help them foot the bill.

For instance, at the University of Arkansas Grantham, military workers, such as members of the Air Force returning to school, can apply for the Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. Resilience Scholarship. In addition, the university offers similar scholarships for federal employees attending courses in criminal justice and several other majors.

Contact your school to learn about the financial aid packages available to you. Your career services department can offer a guiding eye.Federally employed women interested in returning to school and getting the degree, certification and training they need to kick their federal workplace career to the next stage can begin by registering for FEW’s Virtual Leadership Summit III or joining FEW. Contact us today to learn more.

9 Low-Carb Snacks Proven to Fight Office Weight Gain

What foods help combat type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, as well as potentially certain cancers, including breast cancer?

Many of which, according to Northwestern Medicine, rank among the most prevalent health concerns for women.

The answer might surprise you: low-carb snacks.

You love oven-warm bread. So do we. But there’s a reason everyone (and lots of scientific research) says low-carb snacks and diets are so popular.

When followed closely, the best low-carb snacks are all highly effective in reducing the intake of carbs, such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit.

A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with adequate protein is also successful at:

  • Suppressing your appetite.
  • Reducing blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels.
  • Lowering blood pressure.

However, no benefit is as prevalent or as sought after as weight loss, the No. 1 reason why millions of Americans give the low-carb concept a futile try.

Why do many fail? Because coming up with tasty low-carb snacks can be incredibly challenging.

But help is on the way. Below are nine of the best low-carb snack ideas that you can happily nosh on between meals with confidence and no guilt.

Apples with Peanut Butter

The how-to here is almost self-explanatory: Slice up an apple, then spread two teaspoons’ worth of peanut butter across them.

The combo is high in protein and fiber plus highly effective at reducing hunger without interrupting a good night’s sleep. The snack tallies just 166 calories and about 22 grams of carbohydrates.

One thing to keep in mind: Buy natural peanut butter. The alternatives are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and oils. None are healthy for you, and all are drastically higher in carbs and calories.

2. Baby Carrots

Some root vegetables are what they called “tubers.” These kinds of root vegetables act as storage sites for a plant’s natural sugar. Potatoes are perhaps the most common type of “tubers.”

Thankfully, carrots are not.

Carrots are the root of carrot plants, so they’re far lower in sugar and carbs than potatoes and other “tuber” vegetables. One medium raw carrot provides 4 grams of net carbs, and a cup provides 9 grams of net carbs.

Carrots are not as low in carbs as leafy green vegetables, but they’re superior to their “tuber” relatives.

Note: We’re talking about carrots alone here, not those doused in a dip, dressing or hummus, which adds calories and carbs. Cold baby carrots can do wonders all by themselves. Give them a try, especially if you get the munchies before bedtime.

3. Air-Popped Popcorn

What is a low-carb snack that will fill you up and has just the right amount of fiber and protein with a slight dusting of carbs?

The answer is popcorn, but not any old popcorn, and not at any amount.

In this instance, the solution is air-popped popcorn, which has just 6 grams of carbs per cup. Like the baby carrots idea above, the idea is to keep the ingredients as natural as possible. That means few boxed or bagged popcorn products, like the classic movie-style popcorn you see on grocery shelves.

With natural, air-popped popcorn, a slight sprinkle of cheese is OK to ensure it remains a low-carb treat. So is adding a small amount of butter or seasoning—light, exceptionally light.

But adding sugar, caramel and chocolate are strict no-nos for high-protein, low-carb snacks. So is adding salt or oil, the latter of which can double the caloric makeup of popcorn.

4. Greek Yogurt

Once a harder-to-find commodity, Greek yogurt has exploded into mainstream popularity and is now available at your everyday corner convenience store, coffeehouse, restaurant—even airports.

That’s good news for low-carb snack enthusiasts.

Every serving of Greek yogurt is packed with protein. It’ll also keep you full longer without spiking your blood sugar like most sweetened yogurts do. Per a BMJ Open journal study of 900 yogurts, natural and Greek yogurts had significantly lower sugar content than yogurts in all the other categories.

Even low-fat or low-calorie yogurts are masquerading as a reliable health food. In these instances, salt or sugar is added to improve the taste. Always make sure to check the label.

Or save yourself the time and stick to proven Greek yogurt instead.

5. Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries

When it comes to sweet low-carb snacks, the best fruits tend to be those in the berries category, particularly blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

A half-cup of raspberries, for instance, reportedly yields three grams of carbs. Blackberries eaten in the same amount have four grams of carbs, and strawberries have six grams in the same serving.

We know: Berries are fruits that taste sweet because they contain a fair amount of natural sugar and carbohydrates. There is a reason they’re called nature’s candy.

But the facts don’t lie: Berries are low-calorie friendly in small servings.

Again, it’s all about moderation.

6. Guacamole and Sliced Veggies

Guacamole gets a green light from low-carb diets because its main ingredient, avocado, is low in carbs and high in an assortment of key nutrients, including potassium, magnesium and monounsaturated fats.

This nutritional lineup makes guacamole an easy low-carb snack to buy when served with two options: low-carb, keto-friendly chips or, even better, raw veggies, which are easier to find and never lack taste.

The most common veggies to eat with low-carb guacamole include sliced bell peppers, celery sticks, broccoli, cucumbers and cauliflower.

7. Seed Mix

Do you like trail mix? Many do. It’s easy to see why: It’s filling, flavorful and easy to make and carry around.

But trail mix is not always a healthy option, not when you sprinkle in candy, salt, chocolate and certain cereals—a trio that adds unneeded calories, sodium and sugar content, which causes weight gain and contributes to other health issues.

A better alternative? Seed mix.

Per Business Insider, 30 grams of pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seed mix equals just 175 calories, five grams of carbs and seven grams of protein. Seeds are also a reliable source of protein and healthy fats.

Other seeds you can mix in include sesame and flax seeds. Also, lightly roasting the seeds tends to enhance their flavor.

8. Cheese and Peppers

Most of the items listed are quick items you can pull from a fridge. But what if you have a few extra minutes and want to cook something low-carb and tasty on the stove?

One option: Ricotta cheese and peppers.

It’s a popular combination, but this suggestion comes with a twist: Instead of using whole-milk ricotta cheese, switch to part-skim. One ounce of part-skim ricotta cheese has about 39 calories, 1.5 grams of carbs and 3.2 grams of protein.

Using part-skim ricotta also boosts the calcium and protein intake of the low-carb snack without upping any saturated fats.

9. Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is a convenient, easy-to-find and mess-free option for low-carb snacks. Protein-packed beef jerky is carb- and sugar-free and can be matched with a high-fat food item to make the ideal keto snack.

But like the Greek yogurt vs. sweetened yogurt comparison above, you need to read the nutrition label of your beef jerky package.

Does it have three or fewer grams of carbs and sugar? If so, it’s likely a winner, experts say.

If not, watch out. Many beef jerky brands can have as many as 10 grams of carbs per serving. Like low-fat or low-calorie sweetened yogurts, some beef jerky brands add sugar or sugar-based ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and honey to improve taste and production.

At FEW, women’s health is regularly advocated for and encouraged via various year-round activities. Here, we have resources to address several women’s health issues, including heart disease, cholesterol and breast cancer—all conditions that low-carb snacks can help alleviate.

To learn more about how you can improve your health, which is critically important to any born leader, send us a note. We’re here to help one delicious low-carb snack at a time.

Broken Glass: 4 Ways FEW First National President Allie Latimer Advanced Her Career

Most trailblazers think they are late.

In her own words, Allie B. Latimer isn’t an exception—although her subsequent work for gender equality during the last 50+ years has been exceptional.

Latimer helped established the first meeting of Federally Employed Women (FEW) in 1968 based on new learnings and experiences. She watched women make strides during World War II, only to fall behind again in peaceful times. While the Civil Rights movement took shape in the 1960s, the reality of gender discrimination showed itself to her.

“We were so busy with discrimination based on race, gender wasn’t thought of,” said Latimer, whose mother was an “EEO mama” where boys and girls did the same chores. “I was a late-comer to gender discrimination.”

Despite the challenges, Latimer learned how to advance her career. In 1977, she became the first Black American woman to serve as general counsel of a major federal agency. She also became the first Black American and first women to attain the GS-18 salary level at the General Services Administration, Veteran Feminists.

So how did she do it?

In a recent interview, Latimer revealed the “building blocks” that she used to climb the ladder. (It’s not a coincidence that FEW, the organization she started, offers the same opportunities to its members who make the decision to use the group as a tool for advancement.)

Here is the list of the tools that she used to reach new heights:

Find the Right Mentor

During her college days at then-Hampton Institute, Latimer found a mentor that told her the things she needed to hear, as opposed to the things she wanted to hear. Her mentor told her that she needed more experiences before she could realize her full potential. And he recommended that she take a special exam that would position herself for a federal job. “Why would I need to take the exam,” the younger Latimer said to her mentor. “I don’t have any plans of working for the federal government.”

  • 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.

Practice Servant Leadership

After college, Latimer volunteered for the American Friends Service Committee when she worked in prisons and mental institutions. Ultimately, she participated in a campaign to desegregate the New Jersey State Hospital in Vineland, New Jersey and integrate a suburban community outside Philadelphia.

Latimer said her volunteer work gave her the experiences that she was missing: “It helped me learn what it meant to be a human being. I learned a lot about life itself.”

  • Throughout the year, FEW provides countless community outreach opportunities on the chapter, regional and nationals level that give back to communities, sparking fellowship among members.  Community outreach projects are a win-win opportunity for all members, who are able to help other people while helping themselves create new opportunities by meeting other members.

Put Knowledge To Work

Latimer earned her Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law in 1953. She also earned a Master of Legal Letters degree from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law as well as a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Howard University School of Divinity.

But not all her knowledge came from books. When NASA tried to open its recruitment to a more diverse talent pool in the 1960s, it became clear to her that it wasn’t working. At the time, the agency was taking ads out in publications that were mainly read by white men. The project’s administrator asked Latimer to get involved, when the team couldn’t say how many job applicants were women or minorities.

“It was making me aware how women were being overlooked,” she said.

Latimer said this type of knowledge lead her to found FEW. She said acquiring information, training and knowledge is paramount.

“A lot of the times, we are not aware of the pieces that you have to put together to advance,” she added. “Sometimes, you have to leave your current job and go up another ladder where there is opportunity for you. Just being a human being isn’t good enough. People use knowledge as power. You have to have the knowledge.”

Latimer suggested that federally employed women should read the federal government’s annual Green Book, which offers insight on the long-term plans for each agency in terms of funding and initiatives.

  • FEW will host its third year of virtual training July 18 – 22, 2022, with no per diem or lodging cost required.   Once again, FEW will explore the vast options available through an interactive platform to connect you with our trainers, sponsors, and colleagues. FEW will provide a catalog of courses (100+ specialized courses) on various topics, including Human Resources, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Information Technology (IT), Project Management, Management, and Leadership professionals.  All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Core Competencies (Leading People, Leading Change, Business Acumen, Result Driven, and Building Coalitions).  If that is not enough, FEW will hold several after-hour networking events.

Find Your Community

Around the time she discovered sex discrimination was just as pervasive as racial discrimination, Latimer came to a stark realization: “Being a woman was as bad as being Black.” And she checked both boxes.

But Latimer knew that you can’t beat someone who never quits.

When asked why she never gave up despite the challenges, she said: “My background in the home, school, community and church. They were our mentors. They told us what life was about, and how we should respond.”

She remembers coming home after school and changing into her play clothes while her grandmother was helping a lot of people in the community who were sick.

“People took care of each other,” said Latimer who was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Alabama.

  • Members who provide serve the community of FEW are eligible for special recognition, which includes the Allie Latimer Award that recognizes a FEW member whose action and leadership resulted in service to FEW at chapter and/or region level. When members give their time and talent to advance FEW’s mission, they are doing more than helping the community. They are helping themselves by building their reputation and creating new relationships by working side by side with other members on a local, regional and national level.

When FEW launched in 1968, women made 58.2% of what men made in terms of annual salary ($32,389 vs. $18,836). In 2019, women had cut the pay gap to 82% ($57,456 vs. $47,299). Although that’s a clear sign of progress for women, proper context makes the difference more sobering. In 2015, the Institute for Women’s Police Research estimated that women won’t receive equal pay until 2059.

Latimer acknowledges that the struggle continues: “Women have made a lot of gains, but they still have a way to go.”

FEW’s membership needs to continue the charge. To be part of something bigger than yourself, join the movement.

Award-Winner Extends FEW’s Legacy in Own Way

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.”