MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Naval Supply Systems (NAVSUP) Command Headquarters sponsored a Women's History Month program for its military and civilian personnel March 10.
Rear Adm. Jonathan A. Yuen, commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and chief of Supply Corps, began the ceremony by saying, "We are here to celebrate Women's History Month, and to recognize that many females have woven that spirit that we have in our country of equalness and fairness," he said. "We just had our Supply Corps Birthday Ball last month, and I got to introduce at the ball Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, the first female Vice Chief of Naval Operations and the first African-American female to have four-stars, she's the first of many things," Rear Adm. Yuen said. He then invited Kelly Dermody to the podium.
Dermody, managing partner of a 60-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville, Tennessee, served as the guest speaker. In 2014, the Daily Journal named Dermody as a "Top 100 Lawyer in California," a "Top California Women Litigator," and a "Leading Labor and Employment Attorney in California."
"Thank you admiral for that kind introduction," Dermody said. "I want to especially acknowledge your colleague and my friend Lt. Cmdr. Julie Moss who invited me here today. Today I've been asked to talk about the struggle for equal rights for women in the workplace. This is something very near and dear to my heart, and that I've been working on for more than 20 years."
"I never imagined I would be a lawyer," she said. "In college, I felt sort of directionless and took a semester off to go to Washington, D.C., to work for Sen. Ted Kennedy. It changed my life. I was assigned to Sen. Kennedy's judiciary committee staff, and for five months I did research on Supreme Court appointments and civil rights legislation. I watched the passion the staff had for justice, and their sense of shared mission; it was inspiring."
"I also volunteered for a domestic violence hotline, and went through trainings that raised my consciousness around systemic barriers to freedom, including poverty, racism, sexism, and more," Dermody explained. "I realized with every bit of my soul that I wanted to spend my life helping people who have been treated unfairly and to use the tools and power of the law to even the playing field for the little guy."
She spoke about the many cases she had in companies to equalize payment between the males and females, and giving the women new job opportunities in sales and management positions. "While our focus at the start of many cases was exclusively on race discrimination, we soon discovered that there were also systemic gender issues," she explained. She said that many women were passed over for promotions in favor of men who had no greater experience or qualifications than they, and many were paid less for doing the same job as men.
"Now in many industries, women are tired of pretending it is OK to be paid less or to keep quiet about problems," Dermody said. "I am in awe of their courage and respect their choice to be the generation that says, 'no longer.'"
"So, how do we fix this? We are witnessing a new generation of young men and women entering the workforce who have always competed with each other, been friends with each other, and think there is nothing unusual about female leadership," she said. "I truly believe they will lead us out of this."
Wrapping up the ceremony, Dermody said, "In the meantime, I will be busy working with my clients to try to raise awareness and bring fairness to the workplace."
After she was done with her speech, Capt. Rudolph Geisler, NAVSUP chief of staff, presented her with a plaque in appreciation for her speech.
NAVSUP provides U.S. naval forces with quality supplies and services. With headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance. In addition, NAVSUP is responsible for quality-of-life issues for our naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods.
For more news from Naval Supply Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsup/.