Keynote Speakers

Katherine Archuleta
Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management


Since becoming Director of the Office of Personnel Management on November 4, 2013, Katherine Archuleta has dedicated herself to being a champion of a diverse, engaged and inclusive Federal workforce. She also has made it her priority to give agencies the tools they need to hire, develop and retain a world class workforce for the 21st Century.

As the President’s workforce ambassador, Director Archuleta hears from and counsels Federal employees about their work and talks with students, young workers, mid-career professionals and executives about what she likes to call the purpose-driven mission of Federal service.

Director Archuleta is the first Latina to lead OPM. She began her career in public service as a school teacher in Denver. She continued to follow her passion for public service as an aide to Denver Mayor Federico Pena. During the Clinton administration, she was Pena’s Chief of Staff in the Department of Transportation and later his senior policy advisor at the Department of Energy.

By then a sought-after leader, Director Archuleta returned home to Denver and was a Senior Advisor to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

She returned to Federal service during the first two years of the Obama Administration as Chief of Staff to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. She then served as National Political Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.

Clearly, Director Archuleta has lived the life of public service that today she encourages others to pursue. When asked what she would like her OPM legacy to be, she often answers: That we made it possible to sustain a government workforce of unparalleled talent and resourcefulness that reflects the diversity of America.

Susan Tsui Grundmann
Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board

Susan Tsui Grundmann was nominated by President Barack Obama on July 31, 2009, to serve as a Member and Chairman of the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board.  She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 5, 2009.  Her term will expire on March 1, 2016.

Previously, Ms. Grundmann served as General Counsel to the National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), which represents 100,000 Federal workers nationwide and is affiliated with the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Workers.  At NFFE, she successfully litigated cases in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

From 2003 to 2009, Ms. Grundmann was a regular instructor on Federal sector law at the William W. Winpisinger Education Center in Placid Harbor, Maryland.  Prior to joining NFFE, she served as General Counsel to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.  Ms. Grundmann began her legal career as a law clerk to the judges of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of Virginia, and then worked in both private practice and at the Sheet Metal Workers National Pension Fund.

Chairman Grundmann earned her undergraduate degree at American University and her law degree at Georgetown University Law Center.


Patricia J. Niehaus
National President of the Federal Managers Association (FMA)

 Biography of Pat Niehaus 08-2013

Patricia Niehaus was elected the National President of the Federal Managers Association (FMA) in March 2010.  She is the first woman to lead the Association as National President in its 100 year history.  In June 2010, Ms.  Niehaus was appointed by President Barack Obama to a seat on the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations and continues to serve as an active member on the Council as well as several of its sub-committees and working groups.

Founded in 1913 as the National Association of Quartermen and Leadingmen, FMA is the oldest and largest professional management organization representing the interests of a diverse membership of managers and supervisors in nearly 40 different Federal departments and agencies. A non-profit organization, FMA is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, and has nearly 200 chapters located throughout the United States. FMA is a leading advocate and spokesman for management and supervisory personnel at all levels of the Federal government.

The FMA National Office provides members with direct contact with Congress on key issues and has gained an excellent reputation as the result of the testimony of our members before Congress, which has been influential in the passage of key legislation affecting civilian managers’ pay, benefits and retirement.

Ms. Niehaus is an active Federal employee with over 30 years of service. She began her career as a GS-4 Secretary and is now the Chief, Labor and Employee Relations at Travis AFB, California where she is responsible for administering all aspects of labor and employee-management relations for the installation and supervises a staff of four specialists. Over 25 years of her Federal service have been in the Human Relations field, primarily labor and employee-relations. She was detailed to DoD in 2011 to participate in the Department’s New Beginnings project.

Ms. Niehaus received her Bachelors degree in Management from St. Mary’s College of California. Ms. Niehaus was born in Massachusetts and, as an “Air Force Brat,” she has lived in several states. She has 5 grand-children and 5 great-grandchildren, all living in California.


  Sharon E. Debbage Alexander
Special Assistant to the Chair
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Sharon E. Debbage Alexander

Sharon Alexander is a Special Assistant to Chair Jacqueline Berrien of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  In this capacity, Sharon advises the Chair on a variety of enforcement, litigation, and policy development issues, with a particular focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, and Title VII’s sex discrimination provision (including pregnancy discrimination and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons).  She also helps to lead EEOC’s outreach to veterans with disabilities, and coordinates EEOC’s work with the interagency National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force.  Sharon joined the Commission in 2008 to work for then-Commissioner Stuart Ishimaru, serving with him in his capacity as acting Chair for the first 15 months of the Obama Administration.

Before joining the staff of the EEOC, Sharon’s practice focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights advocacy for seven years, first at the Human Rights Campaign and then at Service Members Legal Defense Network.  She is most proud of the years she spent providing legal assistance to service members impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and of her work to help repeal that law.

Sharon is a graduate magna cum laude of the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in anthropology and political science.  She holds a J.D. and an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Colorado.  Sharon is a veteran of the United States Army, having served on active duty for five years in mechanized infantry and airborne infantry brigades in Germany and Italy as a medical operations officer.  She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband of 20 years and her two daughters.


 Alexis D. Howard
Attorney in the Office of Federal Operations (OFO)


Alexis D. Howard is an Attorney in the Office of Federal Operations (OFO) at the Equal  Employment  Opportunity  Commission (EEOC) – Headquarters,  located in Washington,  DC.  As  a Commission Attorney, her primary responsibilities include reviewing  and  rendering  decisions  on  a  variety  of employment discrimination cases,  a  substantial number  of  which  involve highly  complex  or  novel  issues for which there is unsettled or no Commission policy or precedent.  Additionally, Ms. Howard  conducts  EEO training and  investigations and provides  assistance regarding  the  Federal  EEO  process  to  Federal  employees  and  agencies.    She has served as a mentor for an OFO training program for EEO Specialists, as well as an annual internship  program  for  law  students.  She  serves as  Lead  for  the EEOC Women’s  Work Group  and  is  a  co-writer  of the “EEOC  Women’s  Work Group Report” that was issued in December 2013.

Ms. Howard has been with the Commission since August 1999.  She received her Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law in May 1998 and has been a member  of  the  State  of  Maryland  Bar since December  1998.   Ms.  Howard received  a  Bachelor’s  of  Science  degree  from  Howard  University  School  of Business  in  1994.  She  is  a  native  Washingtonian  and  currently  resides  in the District with her husband and their two daughters.

FEW LEADERSHIP SUMMIT Women’s Workgroup Presentation – July 2014

Ms. Charmane S. Johnson
Director, Federal Women’s Employment Program

Charmane Johnson

Mrs. Johnson, a twenty plus year practitioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Career Field, joined the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (P&R), Office Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity (ODMEO), in January 2004. She currently serves as the Director for DoD Policy for Federal Women, Asian, Black, Asian American and Pacific Islander Employment Program and the DoD Liaison for Minority Institutions Programs for the Department of Defense. She is acting Director for Hispanic and Native American Programs.

Mrs. Johnson firmly advocates for fairness and equity in department-wide personnel practices and policies across the department. She strategically leads enterprise-wide programs and initiatives that impact more than 700,000 civilian employees, more than 1.4 million active duty service members and 1.1 million reserve personnel in the U.S. and overseas. Ms. Johnson promulgates DoD-wide policies that promote and strengthen the presence and participation of minorities and women in the DoD pipeline and key department positions. She is an advocate and advisor to DoD senior officials on barriers affecting the advancement and full representation of women, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and African Americans.

Mrs. Johnson also leads initiatives to support Minority Institutions of Higher Education, to include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions, in their effort to increase their self-sufficiency by enhancing their fiscal stability and infrastructure to partner with DoD.

Mrs. Johnson is the founder of the Pilot DoD Centralized Intern Program and continues to lead component-wide initiatives to strategically affect diversity in the DoD pipeline and STEM positions. She is role model, mentor as well as , while mentoring students and aiding their successful matriculation it lead into internships and permanent department positions.

Irma McClaurin, MFA, PhD

United States Office of Personnel Management
Center for Leadership Development

Dr. McClaurin

Dr. Irma  McClaurin became  a senior faculty member  at Federal Executive Institute (FEI) at the  end  of  May, 2013.  Her interests  in  executive leadership  development  include current  theories  on leadership  and  resilience,  leadership  and  innovation,  conflict management,  and  leading  diversity.  She  now  coordinates  the  FEI’s  Executive  Coaching for  its  Leadership  for  a Democratic Society program and the four USAID leadership programs.

McClaurin,  who is noted for being entrepreneurial,  a visionary, an  applied researcher  as  well as a strong mentor, brings  to  government  over  30+  years  of  leadership  experience  in  not-for-profits,  philanthropy,  social  policy, university  teaching  and  higher  education  administration  with  experiences  that  range  from  the  classroom  to  the Boardroom.  Prior to FEI, Dr. McClaurin served as President of Shaw University and successfully led the historic institution  through tornado recovery  six  months  into  her  term.    She  is  the  founder  of McClaurin  Solutions,  a consulting  business that helped  acquire  landmark  status  for  an  African American  cemetery  in  Raleigh,  NC  and provided organizational  change strategies  to the  Office  of  Equity  and  Inclusion  at  the  University  of  Oregon  and communications, branding, and fundraising strategies to the Minnesota African American Museum.

Dr. McClaurin was the founding Executive Director of the Africana Women’s Studies Program at Bennett College for Women and the first Urban Research and Outreach Engagement Center at the University of Minnesota, where she also served as an Associate Vice President.  She was tenured in anthropology at the University of Florida and the  University  of  Minnesota,  and worked  as the Program  Officer  for  Education  and  Scholarship  at  the  Ford Foundation overseeing a $10.9 M annual budget.

McClaurin’s experience in policy includes working at USAID in the policy bureau as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)  Diplomacy Fellow, drafting the first  National  Plan  on  Family Violence for Belize, Central America, and serving as an expert witness on domestic violence and immigration cases.

Dr.  McClaurin has  a  BA  in  American  Studies  (Grinnell  College);  the  MFA  in English/Poetry  (University  of Massachusetts Amherst); and the MA and PhD in Anthropology (University of Massachusetts Amherst).


Rear Admiral Martha Herb
Reserve Deputy Commander, Naval Installation Command


Rear Adm. Herb graduated from Lake Forest College with a Bachelor of Arts. She holds both a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development and a Doctor of Education, specializing in counseling, from George Washington University. She is designated in the explosive ordnance disposal community as a diving and salvage officer and surface warfare officer. She is joint qualified.

Commissioned via Officer Candidate School in 1979, Herb became one of the first three women officers to graduate from the Naval School of Diving and Salvage in Washington D.C. While on active duty, she served in positions both at sea and ashore. Transitioning to the Reserve Component in 1983, she completed various unit and staff assignments including five command tours which include: Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Det. 608; Afloat Training Group Det. 202; Naval Ordnance Safety and Security Activity; Naval Coordination and Guidance of Shipping; and, Deputy Reserve Component Commander, Navy Region Southeast. She served in NATO for six years as officer-in-charge of a Reserve joint cadre supporting the U.S. Military Delegation to the Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. She was inducted in the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame.

Selected to flag rank in 2010, she served in Afghanistan on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as chief, Military Technical Agreement Branch, responsible for the international agreement between NATO and the Afghan government. Subsequent flag assignments have been as deputy, Navy Personnel Command and director for Personnel Readiness and Community Support (OPNAV N135), responsible for the full spectrum of 21st Century Sailor initiatives including sexual assault prevention and response; operational stress and resilience; and, casualty/mortuary affairs.

She is the recipient of various personal decorations and campaign medals including the Defense Superior Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards). She has had the distinct honor of serving with shipmates and together they earned the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Unit Commendation and the Coast Guard Unit Commendation.

In the civilian sector, Dr. Herb is a Maryland Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a National Certified Counselor. She has provided psychotherapeutic services for over 15 years.

FEW LEADERSHIP SUMMIT Strategic Leadership – July 2014

Dorthy Nelms, ESQ Command

Past National President of Federally Employed Women

dorothy nelms

Dorothy needs no introduction to most FEW members having served as FEW’s National President twice and at very different times – 1978-1980 and again from 1996-1998.

Dorothy has inspired many women with her success story.  She began her federal career at the lowest entry level and rose to an executive level position before taking an early retirement to attend law school.

Dorothy went on to have a very successful law practice in the Washington, DC area.  As President of Nelms and Associates; Director, Organizational Development and Training, Hubbard and Revo-Cohen, Attorney-at-Law, Dorothy became an internationally renowned speaker.

Her humor, wit, and in-depth knowledge of issues affecting federal employees always leave attendees wanting more.

FEW National Leadership Summit
Sue Webster, Chair
Marion Stevens, Chair