Blacks in Government Conference Highlights Diversity, Individual Achievements

Story Number: NNS110901-06Release Date: 9/1/2011 4:05:00 PM
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By Lt. Laura K. Stegherr, Diversity Directorate Public Affairs

BOSTON (NNS) -- The Navy took a central role in the 33rd annual Blacks in Government (BIG) National Training Conference in Boston Aug. 22-25.

BIG was established in 1975 to bring together African-Americans in public service to confront workplace and community issues. Today, the non-profit organization's goals are to promote equity in the workplace, excellence in public service and opportunity for all Americans.

The conference brought together nearly a thousand individuals from more than 20 government agencies for four days of seminars, panels and professional development sessions.

"This year's [conference] theme, 'Explore and Navigate Your Leadership Journey Through BIG!,' encourages each of us to become leaders and to make an impact not only within our Federal, state, or local government workplaces, but in our daily lives as well," said BIG National President J. David Reeves. "The world is calling for leaders of all kinds, but leadership often requires training, education, and experience. ... Equally important is the need for us to prepare the next generation of leaders to face future challenges. This year's [conference] is designed to do these things and more."

Capt. Thomas Whittles, deputy commander, Navy Intelligence Reserve Command, provided remarks at the BIG President's Reception Aug. 23 and explained the strategic role of diversity for the Navy, as well as the importance of organizations such as BIG.

"The Navy understands that diversity is indeed a strategic imperative that impacts our mission readiness," said Whittles. "We know that we become a stronger force as we draw from the best of America inherent in the rich diversity of our nation. As we operate globally, we must have intrinsic in our force a diversity of ideas, experiences, expertise, and backgrounds to fulfill the variety of missions asked of us - our ability to defend our nation, and to serve with excellence as America's Global Force for Good depends on it.

"As we move forward, our strong partnerships with organizations such as BIG are so important, continued Whittles." We must work together to inspire and mentor the youth of America - encouraging them to consider serving their country as a Sailor or civilian in the United States Navy."

The conference also featured a Department of Defense forum, during which DoD employees had the opportunity to hear presentations from several senior DoD leaders, including John H. James, Jr., SES, executive director of Missile Defense Agency, and Paige Hinkle Bowles, SES, principal director of Civilian Personnel Policy.

The DoD forum also featured an awards ceremony honoring military members and DoD civilian employees who demonstrated role model qualities and the core values of the military service. Cmdr. George Floyd, assistant reactor officer aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and Kevin Hines, a technical specialist at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, Wash., both received BIG's Meritorious Service Award.

Floyd was recognized for his career-long efforts to build bridges for current and future generations of African-American servicemen and women, including through campus recruiting visits to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), organization of a school adoption program for disadvantaged Hispanic and African American youth, and participation in the National Naval Officers Association, the sea services' organization for mentoring and professional development of African American Sailors, officers and civilians. Floyd has also been recognized by the Black Engineering of the Year Awards as a Most Promising Engineer in 2009 and with the 2010 Roy Wilkins Award for Leadership by the National Association for Advancement of Colored People.

Hines was honored for his efforts establishing a relationship with students in the business and engineering programs at Prairie View A&M University in Texas, an HBCU, assisting in recruitment of the students and offering mentorship to new hires. He helped recruit students to Keyport and once they were hired, offered them one-on-one mentorship. Of the 60 Prairie View students interviewed, Keyport hired nine who are now employed as logistics management specialists, electrical engineers and mechanical engineers.

The Navy also partnered with BIG in facilitating their Future Leaders in America's Government program, which brought nearly 50 junior and senior high school students to the conference Aug. 24 for several informational sessions, including seminars on ways to pay for college, healthy lifestyle and personal finances.

The Navy's participation in the BIG conference is part of the Navy's national outreach initiative to engage and connect with youth, educational, civic, government and business leaders across the country, and to communicate the importance of educating and training future leaders from diverse segments of society in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

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