Leading With Empathy: Making 2023 About Me

Historically, leadership for women has been challenging.

In fact, a record number of C-Suite women terminated relationships with their employers in 2022. Burnout, being overwhelmed, and stressors are just a few indicators of why women have become disenchanted with leaders and leadership. What does this mean for women in leadership roles today and tomorrow?

Dr. Andrea Diese, President of American Management and Leadership by Design, will address leadership roles for women in today’s workplace during her series at Federally Employed Women (FEW)’s National Training Program (NTP) in Columbus, Ohio, on July 10-14. With her years of executive leadership experience, Dr. Diese helps women realize and actualize their leadership and executive potential. Before transitioning to a career in education, Diese worked as a training and development manager for the U.S. Army, where she developed training strategies and organizational assessments involving succession planning, knowledge transference, reengineering and change initiatives.

Dr. Diese’s leadership session, Leading with Empathy: Making ’23 About Me, will be held Tuesday, 7/11 from 9:30 -10:45 A.M. Register today; only 40 seats are available. (Not a member? Click here.)

FEW’s NTP offers more than 110 classes in five tracks that include professional development, office technology and administration, leadership and culture, employee experience, and mindfulness and wellness. All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Core Competencies (i.e. leading people, leading change, business acumen, result driven and building coalitions).

Register today for other courses with Dr. Diese:

  • Leading the Next Generation. Tuesday, 7/11 from 2:45-4:00 P.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member? Click here.)  Leadership, as it relates to being acknowledged, respected, professionally developed and more, especially for women has been historically challenging. In fact, a record number of C-Suite women terminated relationships with their employers as of the fourth quarter of 2022. Burnout, being overwhelmed and stressors are just a few indicators of why women become disenchanted with leaders and leadership. What does this mean for women in leadership roles today and tomorrow? (Leadership and Culture 1310)
  • Leadership and Self Care. Who Takes Care of the Leader? Wednesday, 7/12 from 9:30- 10:45 A.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member? Click here.)

To Climb or Not to Climb? That is the question. Wednesday, 7/12 from 2:45-4:00 P.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member? Click here.)

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 toward advancing women in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight. For more information, please visit FEW.org.

A Jumpstart Series: Leadership Begins With You

Conflict consists of stories and perceptions.

First is the “story” of what happened—“Just the facts, ma’am.” And then there are “stories” we tell each other about what happened. These are two very different things. So, in today’s highly divisive and diverse environment, how do leaders manage and resolve conflict to create an environment where we can each be successful and reach our goals?

Mallary Tytel, Ph.D., MBA, President and Founder of Healthy Workplaces, will answer many questions during her leadership series at the Federally Employed Women’s (FEW) National Training Program (NTP) in Columbus, Ohio, on July 10-14.

Dr. Tytel’s session, GETTING UNSTUCK: Simple Tools for Managing Complex Conflict Workshop, will be a highly interactive presentation identifying your personal and professional perspectives, introducing two new tools for recognizing and understanding the multiple “truths” in any situation, and providing ways to successfully move forward towards resolution. At the end of this interactive presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Identify hot button issues and potential sources of disputes. (2) Recognize the multiple “truths” in any situation. (3) Demonstrate and practice using two new tools for managing conflict, which can be used immediately.

Dr. Tytel is the former CEO of an international nonprofit behavioral health and human resource development corporation. She has served as a key advisor to senior-level civilian and military personnel within the U.S. Department of Defense and provided oversight for three Congressionally mandated pilot programs in 16 communities across the country. Tytel has delivered innovative leadership training programs in more than 40 communities worldwide.

GETTING UNSTUCK: Simple Tools for Managing Complex Conflict Workshop, will be held Monday, 7/10 from 2:45-4:00 P.M.  Register today; only 40 seats are available. (Not a member yet? Click here.)

FEW’s NTP offers more than 110 classes in five tracks that include professional development, office technology and administration, leadership and culture, employee experience, and mindfulness and wellness. All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Core Competencies (i.e. leading people, leading change, business acumen, result driven and building coalitions).

Register today for other courses with Dr. Tytel:

  • CREATING MEANINGFUL WORK: How Purpose Can Change Everything. Monday, 7/10 from 1:00-2:30 P.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member yet? Click here.) Employee engagement has long been an issue of contention in our workplaces; and recent upheavals in our workplaces and communities, health and well-being have left us with more questions than answers. More than “just paying the bills” do we truly feel a connection between what we do and our values, interests and moral compasses? This presentation will dive into the nature of meaningful work and how to effectively communicate, translate and promote your organization’s goals and vision to your team through what you do. It will also share action steps to support and maintain engagement and motivation for a healthy, productive and diverse work environment. (Leadership and Culture 1320)
  • STRETCH AND FOLD: Kneading a Strategy for Resilience. Tuesday, 7/11 from

9:30-10:45 A.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member yet? Click here.) The simplest and most familiar methods are often the most effective. For example, think about making bread, and how you stretch and fold the dough. If you don’t knead the bread, it breaks down; and there also must be a flexible structure holding the bread together in its shape. So, what does that mean in building resiliency in our organizations when every day brings a new challenge? This simple metaphor and powerful tool for leaders and planners, offers us cycles of learning and growing as we build strategies for our organization’s success, while meeting the needs of today and tomorrow. At the end of this interactive presentation participants will be able to: (1) Review the four basic components of organizational strategy. (2) Articulate and demonstrate the principles of stretch and fold as a path to resiliency. (3) Identify opportunities to apply strategic “stretch and fold: in their own teams, organizations and communities. (Leadership and Culture 1323)

  • SIMPLE RULES FOR ORGANIZATIONS: Getting Back to Basics. Wednesday, 7/12 from      8:00-9:15 A.M. Register today—only 36 seats. (Not a member yet? Click here.) How can you develop clear and sound options for action that help you to achieve success while making a difference for yourself and your team? With a short list of Simple Rules. Simple Rules are the organizational DNA that provide the framework for what you do and how you do it. They create the culture of your organization and the fundamental yardstick that enables you to do your work. They also exist whether you know them and agree with them or not. Do you know the simple rules in your organization? How do those rules support your own beliefs, values and priorities? Finally, how do the simple rules help you contribute effectively to your organization?
  • LEADERSHIP REBOOT 2023: Thriving Through Individual and Collaborative Success Today. Wednesday, 7/12 from 2:45–4:00 P.M. Register today—only 40 seats. (Not a member yet? Click here.) Sometimes, we get so caught up in old patterns and behaviors that we start to take our lives, our work, other people and situations for granted. Even after finishing a tough project or reaching a significant milestone, we can still feel stuck and stale. Not the same as stress or having a frustrating day at the office, there is a time when we need to reset ourselves to move forward with renewed clarity and motivation. It may be time for a Leadership Reboot. This presentation will start with a simple self-assessment, offer tips and tools to refresh your strengths and abilities and create a template to move forward with clarity and motivation.

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 toward advancing women in government with cutting-edge training, nationwide networking and invaluable insight. For more information, please visit FEW.org.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director, Kathi Vidal: You owe it to yourself and others to be authentic

The day I learned that the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) – arguably the most impactful patent legislation since the 1950s – had been published online as a draft bill by Congress, I was on a plane from San Francisco to San Diego. Coincidentally, I was prepping to speak at a conference on the potential impact of the legislation and the various interests involved. I quickly digested the draft bill and adjusted my notes, cognizant that many in the room had a vested interest in the legislation and some had lobbied Congress for change. 

After we finished our talk, a senior leader came up to me and said, “Wow! I’ve heard you speak a lot. But, I’ve never seen you so passionate and excited.  You looked like you were having so much fun up there.” 

Was it the topic?  Was there something about the AIA that was just so much more exciting to me than patent prosecution, prosecution laches, patent litigation or moderating judges’ panels?  

With all due respect to the bill, no.

What was different about that discussion was that I was presenting at a women’s conference that a few of my colleagues and I conceived of and planned. This was before women’s conferences were a “thing,” so it was also the first women’s conference at which I spoke. The audience was all women. The space, food, and drinks were tailored to the audience. Dark suits were replaced with resort wear. Stale bagels with specialty chocolates. 

For me, this was an “aha” moment! As someone who started in mathematical physics, graduated with  bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering, was doing early research in artificial intelligence at GE Aerospace and led design and manufacturing teams, the usual way I bonded with my colleagues was by taking up their sports (windsurfing for quite a few years and softball) and watching Monday Night Football. Though I didn’t take to heart when I was told early on that nobody would take me seriously because I smiled and laughed too much, I did – perhaps subconsciously – adapt to the world around me.  I processed the data of what “success” and “leadership” looked like and slowly adapted my behavior.  When I spoke on stage, I looked and sounded like my colleagues and the bulk of the others who spoke.  Nobody asked me to do that or applauded me for doing it. It was just how I naturally acclimated to the world around me.

It was on that day, and because of that comment, that I realized the power and joy in being me. In being authentic.

Since that time, I have spoken more times than I can remember of the power of being authentic and how to achieve success as your own authentic self. Here are two key lessons I want to share:

First, figure out what you want and ask for it. Studies show that there is, what I have come to define as, an “ask bias.”  Women do not tend to ask as much as men. Asking can seem selfish or brash and the fear of getting a “no” can seem daunting. If you don’t ask, you will get behind both in work and in life. You will let perceptions of what you want, or what others expect of you, control your actions.

The key is finding a way to ask in your own authentic way that doesn’t make you feel like anyone other than yourself. Linda Babcock has some great writing in this area to which I often refer women. In a Harvard Business Review article she wrote: “[W]e’ve discovered another, subtler source of inequality: Women often don’t get what they want and deserve because they don’t ask for it.” She noted that “[w]omen tend to assume that they will be recognized and rewarded for working hard and doing a good job. Unlike men, they haven’t been taught that they can ask for more.” 

Babcock makes it clear that this is not just an issue of socialization. Managers also bear responsibility and “should drive larger scale cultural change.” 

As to the latter, Babcock suggests an algorithm I employed immediately after joining the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She remarks that,  “[w]hen a man asks for a raise [or opportunity and a woman doing comparable work does not], a good manager should consider giving both, or neither, of them raises.” At the USPTO, I’ve encouraged leadership to consider for positions and opportunities not just those who first come to mind, but anyone else who would have the same predicted success in the role. I encourage them to consider those who ask and anyone else similarly situated who did not ask. I’ve also been working to bring into the agency training on “how to ask” as your own authentic self. 

The key for me, personally, is asking politely and on behalf of others or a greater cause. 

Let me give you some examples. Years ago, I had a case in the Northern District of California and I asked a junior lawyer – let’s call her Tanya – to argue a motion so I could give her that opportunity.  Tanya and I had prepared thoroughly on the merits.  But, what I hadn’t prepared her on was how to ask.

Tanya did a fantastic job in her argument.  The other lawyer – let’s call him John — argued.  Then, the Judge started giving some views.  John, a seasoned, aggressive male litigator, interrupted the Judge numerous times saying, “But, but” and making his arguments. Tanya waited for the Judge to ask her for her response.  She waited to be called on.  The Judge never did.  When I saw John getting some traction, I stood up to be recognized to help complete the argument.  That was not Tanya’s failure, it was mine.

What I should have taught Tanya was how to ask. For me, I don’t say “But, but.” I don’t interrupt the judge. Instead I politely ask, “Your honor, may I be heard?”  Or, “Your honor, may I make a suggestion?”  Or, “Your honor, may I respond?”  I’ve never received a “no.”  And, the ask carves out time to make my argument. 

This year I mentored a successful woman leader through JOURNEY, a one-year program to give women access to higher-level connections and enable them to build lifelong networks of support. She – let’s call her Sylvia – said that her title and compensation was lower than those of her male counterparts.  Sylvia was going into a performance review and sought advice.

I suggested to her that she tee the issue up in advance so her supervisor was not surprised.  I also suggested that she not make it about her and that she not presume her supervisor knew of the disparity.  She did exactly that. She explained in advance all the ways in which she could better serve the organization and why it was important to the organization that she be at the same title and salary as her counterparts. 

When it comes to job or opportunities, I never focus on what it means to me. Instead, I provide my thoughts on how the position could be used to further the organization’s goals and mission. Or, on how I could be more effective at serving the institution’s goals in the position. It is different for everyone.  The key is to find your own authentic way to ask. 

And, as my negotiations professor at the University of Pennsylvania would say, “practice every day!”  It then becomes innate. My professor would have us practice and ask and would always say you have to give a reason. Data shows that even if the reason is not compelling, just hearing a reason incentivizes the person you ask to say yes.  Think about that the next time you are standing in the security line at the airport. If someone asked if they could cut ahead of you, would you be as likely to say yes than if they even gave a simple reason like, “I need to get home”? Probably not.  

As for asks or negotiations, you can practice daily. One of the simpler ones I participated in was at a corner store in downtown Philadelphia.  I was planning to eat a hot and sour soup for dinner and the recipe called for two eggs. The corner store sold eggs by the dozen, but instead of buying a dozen, I asked if I could buy only two.  My “why” was that I only needed two and didn’t want to waste the others.  Though I initially got a “no,” I persisted and noted that the place sold breakfast sandwiches and could sell me two of those eggs as opposed to two out of a dozen. I came home with two eggs and the soup was even more tasty for it!

Second, in addition to asking authentically, you owe it to yourself and others to be authentic. To lead with your heart, not just your head. In today’s world with social and physical separation in our work places and even with family and friends, we must do more to connect. Whether you are leading a group or leading up, by being vulnerable and opening yourself up to others to experience the real you – you not only improve your own well-being and joy, you do that for others.  You also create the space for them to do the same. 

My favorite researcher and speaker on this topic is Brené Brown, a professor at the University of Houston.  Many of her talks are available for free online.  Brown notes that one of the keys to vulnerability is giving yourself permission to be imperfect.  She writes, “[f]or me, that means writing permission slips—to myself.”  She continues:

“To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect—and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I’ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity. Even when it’s hard, and even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. It’s these moments in life that demand we show up—that we let go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we really are.”

I try to lead with authenticity. I don’t recall a meeting – whether it was one of my many internal or external listening sessions, meetings at the White House, or meetings discussing cases or key decisions internally – where I didn’t laugh with others. When I first started at the USPTO, I asked for a town hall immediately and opened myself up to questions. As part of that, I admitted that I’m a right-brained introvert who has been doing a left-brained extrovert job. I love what I do. I love people. But, I need my down time (even if that is writing this article on my computer, taking a walk in nature, or practicing my photography hobby). And, if I respect my own needs first, I am a better professional, and person, for it. I hope you all find your authentic voice, and use it.

Priscilla Moultrie Adds Flair to FEW’s NTP & More

Priscilla Moultrie is a magnetic force of energy and she is harnessing her professional superpowers to bring swag and flair to Federally Employed Women’s (FEW’s) National Training Program (NTP) events and networking operations.

As the 2022 FEW Awards Chair, Priscilla revamped the annual awards ceremony, giving the audience a jolt of excitement. She ingeniously staged her own rendition of a popular television variety show, which introduced the country to “The Robot” and a unique take on “line” dancing. For one special evening in 2022, FEW’s premiere event—the NTP—and its National Awards Program were the “hippest trip in America.”

That’s how Priscilla likes to get things done. She is motivated by an inspirational bit from comedian Steve Harvey, who says every successful person (at some point) must risk their comfort zones and “jump,” if they want to “live-out” the full potential of their talents and gifts. “You will never know what can become of your hard work, unless you take the leap to develop yourself. Continue to level up as you soar,” she says.

In 2023, Priscilla is already bringing creativity to her new role as the Special Assistant to the President for Sponsors and Partnerships. With a fresh eye for building synergies, she has identified potential partners and sponsors from different business sectors and other organizations with whom FEW may not have previously worked. While she cannot yet reveal all her secret plans for this year’s NTP and beyond, anyone who knows Priscilla knows she likes to create a big “splash.” Her fellow board members and NTP guests are anticipating her hands in helping to bring sponsors and partners together at what will be a grand and celebratory event on July 10-14, 2023, at the Hilton Columbus Downtown in Ohio.

This year’s NTP theme, “Leveling Up For Success: Ready, Set, Grow!”—is perfect for Priscilla to brainstorm and cultivate new “win-win” professional relationships among other like-minded organizations. In addition to providing premier training to Government workers, FEW is committed to raising awareness about issues related to equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. FEW provides equal access to membership, programs, activities and opportunities to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Prospective business partners and sponsors may expect personalized “Meet & Greet” sessions with FEW leadership, including Priscilla, who has been key in helping to identify fresh new faces to team up with FEW.

FEW’s National Training Program is an important annual event for its membership and guest participants. The electric five-day experience provides a lineup of more than 100 specialized courses on various topics, including Human Resources, Equal Employment Opportunity, Information Technology, Project Management, and Leadership. All courses align with the Office of Personnel Management’s Executive Core Competencies (i.e., Leading People, Leading Change, Business Acumen, Result Driven and Building Coalitions). In addition, FEW will host “After-Hours” networking events for participants to build relationships and celebrate member achievements.

Attending an NTP event is invaluable. Volunteering at an NTP is exponentially beneficial. When members “help out” with a particular session or event, they increase their existing management and leadership skills. For example, servant leaders can heighten their customer service abilities by assisting with registration or hospitality; program and project managers may choose to expand their abilities with logistics; others may choose to improve their people skills by helping in the Exhibitor’s Hall. Everyone who works behind the scenes to make the NTP a success develops professional skills and builds their resume.  

That kind of involvement has worked for Priscilla.

“Working on previous National Training Program events has helped me grow and develop professionally. Delving into leadership with the awards process opened my eyes to the importance of recognition and friendly competition among chapters,” she says. Priscilla says the role of Awards Chair broadened her “horizons with strategies related to awards and event processes, planning streams for the rollout of an exciting awards program, protocols involved with the overall make-up of the awards, and the integration of different perspectives required to execute such a major event.” This was particularly challenging in a virtual atmosphere, where contending with a global pandemic was a new and ongoing reality. “Working alongside other FEW professionals afforded her first-hand access to experts offering their cutting-edge expertise to make each National Training Program unique.” This year’s in-person celebration will bring a new set of challenges and excitement, as participants navigate returning to a live training event.

“The passion I have witnessed from board colleagues, chapters, and those who have a heart for FEW shows the love for the organization,” she says. “This is another way I have grown professionally and developed crisper skills. I have access to rooms and people I would not have, without being genuinely involved.”

Priscilla says being a FEW member taught her three things:

  1. Wise counsel and “golden nuggets” that are offered are keys to being successful. Be a sponge and absorb the continuous feed of knowledge you receive because you will use it in many facets of your journey from being a mentee to being a mentor or coach.
  2. Ask questions. Do not be afraid to inquire. This is how you gain experience and work smarter—not harder.
  3. Allow trials and errors to work for you. You will benefit from the learning and make improvements toward becoming successful.

Priscilla says FEW membership is one of the best opportunities for development, helping federal employees and contractors gain experience, grow professionally and personally while networking with people from diverse backgrounds and career levels. “Your FEW membership could lead you to other doors you have yet to open that will leave you in awe,” she says. “FEW is an incredible organization filled with countless windows of opportunities where you will find yourself taking a leap. You will land in an exciting new place! FEW is all about “Leveling Up For Success!”

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!”