The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

As I reflect on the meaning behind the 2021 Black History Month theme “The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity,” I graciously think about the importance of knowing who you are and how you identify yourself to fit into this world.  It is a fact that there is importance in how we define ourselves and what we represent for the greater good of humanity.  Studies have shown that there is absolute strength in diversity.  FEW is an organization that explores all aspects of diversity and this month we highlight and celebrate the contribution of the Black family; those who advance our cause and join us in working for the advancement of women the government.”  There is no doubt that Black people have contributed in numerous advancements in our society and made several cracks in the glass ceiling. Our nation is better because of their inclusion, representation and contributions.

Just like any masterpiece painting, the reflection of different shades adds depth and value. The black family for many generations told the story of survival and elevation. With the record-breaking feats in science, medicine, technology, politics, sports and so much more; the black family’s identity, representation has become more prevalent and recognizable. Our first National President, Ms. Allie Latimer, is a black woman who is now honored in The Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York because of her representation of excellence and knowing her identity. Today I asked her what does she think about this year’s theme and she said, “The Black family is the glue that has held many of us together and allowed us to stand strong on each other’s shoulders to propel the mission and values of FEW forward. FEW recognize the importance of operating in love, service and support of others to reach down in love and support to pull other up – another rung on the ladder.  This is one of the keys to our success as we include and reflect everyone’s story during the Black History Month celebration.”

FEW celebrate Black History Month; noting that the Black family is part of the nucleus of American history. Whether good or bad, Black family have help defined the American dream. 

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

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

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

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

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

US Capitol Incident Remarks

I am deeply troubled and astonished by what occurred at the U.S. Capitol Building. The U.S. Capitol Building is the symbol of our democracy and where our laws and our principles are debated and upheld.  It is also the place where hundreds of federal civilian and military servants work every day.  The Capitol represents “The Peoples House” and it simply cannot be defiled. 

Federally Employed Women (FEW) supports a safe and equal environment to work together for the inclusion of everyone’s voice.  All voices must be heard, yet, the display yesterday stopped our National Representatives from conducting the business of our nation and put federal workers in harms way.  FEW sends our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives yesterday in the U.S. Capitol Building.  We are disheartened over the actions of so few.  

Although this blight on our nation happened, I know we are better than this and our best days are ahead of us, not behind. We stand unified with Congress, their staffs, security professionals, police officers or maintenance personnel at the Capitol.  We took an oath to protect and serve and that is exactly what we will do.

May God Bless America!

Karen Rainey

National President

Happy New Year!

Dear FEW Member,

As 2020 draws to a close, I want to send a special note of appreciation to you the FEW membership.  You are why the National Board of Directors and I go so hard for our mission.   This year, we faced with enormous challenges as our nation, agencies and homes have as well.  But as I have stated throughout this year “it is in time of darkness when we show ourselves adaptable and strong.”  2020 has been a year like none other – with quarantines, travel bans, drive by graduations, health emergencies, loss of jobs, homes and people.  Yet, although we are saddened, all is not lost because of our membership and their special gifts, FEW stands with the many heroes of our nation, from the critical healthcare workers, scientists, grocery store attendants, PPE industrial industries and all the other critical workers that kept us going.  We thank you and send our appreciation. 

Being elected as National President of Federally Employed Women for a second term is by far the highest honor of my professional career and one that astonishes me.  As National President of the great organization, I want to personally thank you for your membership.  It means the world to FEW and we think of you in every decision made to ignite our torches for FEW.  As we look forward to a bright and prosperous 2021, FEW will continue to soar because you are wind that pushes us forward. We have some amazing activities planned to ensure we go even higher. 

In advance, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Administrative staff of CMA for the tremendous effort they put forward day-to-day in allowing us to help so many of our members. Many of us do not see all the demands placed on our office, but their work is greatly appreciated.   I know that the small investment in transitioning our office to CMA will lead FEW into a bright and new future and we will lead the pay in equity and inclusion of women.

To the National Board members, I also thank them for their dedication to the success of the FEW and for their tremendous input to the proper governance of our organization. And, I want to especially acknowledge the participation of our Regions and Chapters membership.  You have committed endless hours of volunteer time to make sure our members are provided with opportunities to continue learning, to network and socialize with other credit professionals for opportunities in career advancement and pay equity.

Lastly, to everyone invested with FEW, my sincere appreciation for your support and the pride you demonstrate everyday by representing this elite organization “working for the advancement of women in the government.”  You are the source of our strength for FEW and make my job satisfying and easy.  It is my pleasure to wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and to remind you that FEW is “Soaring to New Heights.”

Karen Rainey, National President

A wish for holiday joy and a season of care and prosperity.

from Federally Employed Women

As we enter this holiday season, my wish is that we all have a spirit of joy and happiness and remember what is most important to all of us – people.  As 2020 draws to a close most of us are in the midst of preparations for the season’s festivities, I hope that you will share yourself as gift of love and compassion with our government community, family and friends by practicing social distancing.   I wish you health this holiday season and a break from the hustle and bustle of our everyday working schedules.  I urge each and every one of us to reflect on these special moments and savor the relationships that we have nurtured to cherish over the years.

Being elected as National President of Federally Employed Women for a second term is by far the highest honor of my professional career and one of the most astounding. At the same time, this year has been one of some sadness as we have lost a number of wonderful members in our community and also some dear friends are going through some difficult situations within their family environments. While keeping with the spirit of this joyous time, it is equally important to take a few moments and recall these other events and keep these people in our thoughts and our prayers.  FEW cares and believes you will soar again.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Administration staff of the CMA for the tremendous effort they put in day in and day out to make sure that our members are well looked after. Many of us do not see all the demands placed on our office, but their work is greatly appreciated.   I know that the small investment in transitioning our office with CMA will lead FEW into a bright and new future.

To the National Board members, I thank them for their dedication to the success of the FEW and for their tremendous input to the proper governance of our organization. I also wish to acknowledge the participation of our Regions and Chapters membership.  You have committed endless hours of volunteer time to make sure our members are provided with opportunities to continue learning, to network and socialize with other credit professionals for opportunities in career advancement and pay equity.

Lastly, to everyone invested with FEW, my sincere appreciation for your support of FEW and the pride you demonstrate each day at representing this elite organization “Working for the advancement of women in the government”. You are the source of the strength of FEW and make my job satisfying and easy.  My wish is for you is a holiday season exceptionally good and safe and that the New Year brings you much health, happiness and prosperity.

Karen Rainey

President

Happy Thanksgiving

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to you this holiday season. Although this is an abnormal holiday season, FEW celebrate all of us for endurance, strength and capacity to love through laughter and cheer from this holiday season. Our nation is still strong because of you and our heroes — the healthcare workers, teachers, parents and other essential personnel we will get through this pandemic.

This is a time when I personally want to express how sincerely thankful I am to the FEW membership for your support of the precious organization. I am so proud of our activities and actions this year. Members of FEW has uplifted our mission and you have represented the best of our federally employed community. Truly, I recognize your dedication to our mission and appreciate the work you do to allow women to soar to new heights for women for years to come.  

FEW is sending you and your family my best wishes for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving, Stay Safe

Karen Rainey, President

.

Stay vigilant to protect yourself and others against COVID-19

As we see increases in COVID-19 rates across the country, I want to take a moment to remind you that we all in this together and the cure can only happen when all of participate. I want to encourage you to remain vigilant in your efforts to protect yourself – not just in the workplace, but also at home, your neighborhood and as you go about your day-to-day activities. We all rely on you to protect yourself, your family and your entire community. We need you to do your part to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

As the colder weather approaches in many parts of the nation, it’s important to ensure we continue to follow the critical safety guidelines including washing your hands, sanitizing high-touch areas, wearing a face covering and remaining socially distanced. With the onset of flu season, the CDC advises you to know the difference in the symptoms and provides guidance on how to protect yourself and others.
.
As we closely monitor developments in our nation and in our agencies, FEW remain confident that we are on the verge of a remediation to the global pandemic. We remain in close contact with local authorities to ensure we not only meet, but where possible also exceed all the various safety protocols related to COVID-19. When concerns arise, FEW will take appropriate action for all of our safety.

I urge you to stay strong, and together we will continue to overcome this challenge and help people across the nation. Below is a link to the latest CDC information to help keep you informed of rates in the United States at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/covid-data/covidview/index.html. There are many resources available as well. Please visit our national partner, FEEA website at https://feea.org/coronavirus/ for more options of support.

It is important to me that you know FEW is here for you and willing to help. We thank you for all that you do to allow us to keep “Soaring to New Heights.”

We honor our Veterans! Happy Veterans Day – November 11

In honor of the millions of veterans who have served our nation with honor, dignity and pride; for all of the sacrifices you’ve made for a grateful nation and for the assurances of safety we live each day because you are there, Federally Employed Women salute you and say “Thank you.” 

Veterans Day is a national holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I, on November 11, to honor the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The military has five branches. In simple terms, the U.S. Armed Forces are made up of the five-armed service branches: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy.  Veterans Day replaced Armistice Day in 1954. This holiday is important to all of us, and FEW proudly celebrate with you and your families.  We thank all veterans for protecting our freedom and our way of life in what we believe to be the greatest land.

This holiday is a celebration to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast cancer quotes - Courage doesn't always roar

Each October, Federally Employed Women (FEW) take time to acknowledge the men and women whose lives are affected by breast cancer and brings awareness to our community to to defeat breast cancer in so many lives. We know that 2.4% of women in the United States will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. This makes breast cancer the most common cancer among women, besides skin cancer. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.  And, men in 2018, there were about 2,550 new cases of breast cancer.

But what is most important to FEW is that we make sure you are aware of what breast cancer is and that you know your body and check often for changes. Breast cancer is a disease in which cells in the breast grow out of control. There are different kinds of breast cancer. The kind of breast cancer depends on which cells in the breast turn into cancer. Breast cancer can begin in different parts of the breast. A breast is made up of three main parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple. The connective tissue (which consists of fibrous and fatty tissue) surrounds and holds everything together. Most breast cancers begin in the ducts or lobules.

We know that early detection can be the difference in saving lives.  Many of the most important risk factors for breast cancer are beyond our control, such as age, family history, and medical history. However, there are some risk factors you can control, such as weight, physical activity, and alcohol consumption.  Your health is a major factor in the well-being of your entire family.  Thus, FEW want to acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month by reminding everyone to use self-examination to fight against breast cancer and we support a healthy schedule of mammograms with your doctor based on your family history and risk factors. 

FEW mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

A known champion for gender equality, Federally Employed Women (FEW) mourns the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg or RBG.  Justice Ginsburg spent a lifetime flourishing in the face of adversity before being appointed a Supreme Court justice, where she successfully fought against gender discrimination. She was born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a furrier in the height of the Great Depression, and her mother worked in a garment factory. Ginsburg’s mother instilled a love of education in Ginsburg through her dedication to her brother; foregoing her own education to finance her brother’s college expenses. Her mother heavily influenced her early life and watched Ginsburg excel at James Madison High School, but was diagnosed with cancer and died the day before Ginsburg’s high school graduation. Ginsburg’s success in academia continued throughout her years at Cornell University, where she graduated at the top of her class in 1954. That same year, Ruth Bader became Ruth Bader Ginsburg after marrying her husband Martin, who was a first-year law student at Cornell when they met. After graduation, she put her education on hold to start a family. She had her first child in 1955, shortly after her husband was drafted for two years of military service. Upon her husband’s return from his service, Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard Law.

Ginsburg’s personal struggles neither decreased in intensity nor deterred her in any way from reaching and exceeding her academic goals, even when her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1956, during her first year of law school. Ginsburg took on the challenge of keeping her sick husband up-to-date with his studies while maintaining her own position at the top of the class. At Harvard, Ginsburg tackled the challenges of motherhood and of a male-dominated school where she was one of nine females in a 500-person class. She faced gender-based discrimination from even the highest authorities there, who chastised her for taking a man’s spot at Harvard Law. She served as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Her husband recovered from cancer, graduated from Harvard, and moved to New York City to accept a position at a law firm there. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had one more year of law school left, so she transferred to Columbia Law School and served on their law review as well. She graduated first in her class at Columbia Law in 1959.

Even her exceptional academic record was not enough to shield her from the gender-based discrimination women faced in the workplace in the 1960s. She had difficulties finding a job until a favorite Columbia professor explicitly refused to recommend any other graduates before U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri hired Ginsburg as a clerk. Ginsburg clerked under Judge Palmieri for two years. After this, she was offered some jobs at law firms, but always at a much lower salary than her male counterparts. She instead took some time to pursue her other legal passion, civil procedure, choosing to join the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure. This project fully immersed her in Swedish culture, where she lived abroad to do research for her book on Swedish Civil Procedure practices. Upon her return to the States, she accepted a job as a professor at Rutgers University Law School in 1963, a position she held until accepting an offer to teach at Columbia in 1972. There, she became the first female professor at Columbia to earn tenure. Ginsburg also directed the influential Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s. In this position, she led the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg took a broad look at gender discrimination, fighting not just for the women left behind, but for the men who were discriminated against as well. Ginsburg experienced her share of gender discrimination, even going so far as to hide her pregnancy from her Rutgers colleagues. Ginsburg accepted Jimmy Carter’s appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. She served on the court for thirteen years until 1993, when Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her career as a justice where she left off as an advocate, fighting for women’s rights. In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, holding that qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute. Her style in advocating from the bench matches her style from her time at the ACLU: slow but steady, and calculated. Instead of creating sweeping limitations on gender discrimination, she attacked specific areas of discrimination and violations of women’s rights one at a time, so as to send a message to the legislatures on what they can and cannot do. Her attitude is that major social change should not come from the courts, but from Congress and other legislatures. This method allows for social change to remain in Congress’ power while also receiving guidance from the court. Ginsburg does not shy away from giving pointed guidance when she feels the need. She dissented in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. where the plaintiff, a female worker being paid significantly less than males with her same qualifications, sued under Title VII but was denied relief under a statute of limitations issue. The facts of this case mixed her passion of federal procedure and gender discrimination. She broke with tradition and wrote a highly colloquial version of her dissent to read from the bench. She also called for Congress to undo this improper interpretation of the law in her dissent, and then worked with President Obama to pass the very first piece of legislation he signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a copy of which hangs proudly in her office.

While many people speculate as to when the justice will retire, any assumption of frailty would be utterly misplaced. Ginsburg works with a personal trainer in the Supreme Court’s exercise room, and notably, can lift more than both Justices Breyer and Kagan. Until the 2018 term, Ginsburg had not missed a day of oral arguments, not even when she was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, after surgery for colon cancer, or the day after her husband passed away in 2010. Justice Ginsburg has proven time and again that she is a force to be reckoned with, and those who doubt her capacity to effectively complete her judicial duties need only to look at her record in oral arguments, where she is still among the most avid questioners on the bench today.

https://www.oyez.org/justices/ruth_bader_ginsburg