Affinity groups offer fellowship and training

By Stephanie Buggs, DLA Energy Student Trainee DLA Energy Public Affairs

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Two Defense Logistics Agency Energy employees gained valuable information in two affinity group leadership trainings.

The DLA Energy Equal Employment Opportunity office is responsible for heightening awareness of affinity programs and encouraging employees to attend. DLA Energy EEO Director Darrell Bogan explain the importance of employee involvement.

“Affinity groups help promote the participation and advancement of minority and women managers and employees in the federal government,” Bogan said.

This is the first year that the EEO office has sent DLA Energy employees to participate in the Federal Asian/Pacific American Council and Society of American Indian Government Employees leadership trainings.

DLA Energy Inventory Management Specialist Kevin Jackson attended the SAIGE National Training Program in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 11-14.

SAIGE is the first national non-profit organization representing American Indian and Alaska Native Federal, Tribal, State, and local government employees. It provides a forum on the issues, challenges, and opportunities of AI/ANs in the government workforce and works to foster a professional network among AI/AN employees. This year’s theme was Sovereignty, Trust and Resilience.

“The event is geared toward how American Indians working in the federal government who have been able to keep their identity and help out their tribes,” Jackson said. “It also teaches how to deal with stress in the workplace, building better working relationships and gathering all the data before making a decision.”

The Annual National Training Program consisted of professional development courses, workshops, award ceremonies and guest speaker presentations.

Jackson attended several workshops including SAIGE 101, an introductory course on SAIGE and how federal agencies work hand in hand with their tribes. He also attended Rise of the Seventh Generation, a workshop geared toward explaining the history of the Trail of Tears - a difficult and deadly journey that Indians were forced to make in the 1830s.

“These classes helped me to better understand how to deal with problems that arise in the workplace in a more professional and respectful manner,” Jackson said. “It has made me more aware of the many cultural differences there are in the workplace.”

DLA Energy Contract Specialist Keecha Elliott attended the FAPAC National Leadership Training Program in Arlington, Virginia, May 14-17.

FAPAC is an organization that promotes equal opportunity and cultural diversity for Asian Pacific American employees within the federal and District of Columbia governments. This year marked the 33rd year of the training and the theme was Unite Our Vision by Working Together, focusing on diversity, unity and inclusion.

“Inclusion is the deliberate act of welcoming diversity and creating an environment where all are accepted,” Elliott said. “If diversity is what you have, inclusion is what you do.”

The Leadership Training Program consisted of keynote speakers, panel discussions, breakout sessions, and problem-solving work groups to discuss topics to build government leadership skills.

Elliott found value in a discussion titled, Creating Inclusive H.E.R.O.E.S in Organization, led by keynote speaker Miguel Joey Aviles.

“I learned there are five ways to become an inclusive hero at DLA Energy,” Elliott said. “This includes opening the door of opportunity and getting out of my comfort zone.”

Other suggestions are, showing gratitude toward others, engaging with people that are different from me and accepting new ideas, she said.

“The National Leadership Training Program was a valuable developmental opportunity for me,” Elliott said. “The conference offered several career and life nuggets that I gained from phenomenal speakers.”

According to the DLA People and Culture Plan, people are DLA’s most important asset. Establishing a work environment that is accepting of all diverse people is beneficial to accomplishing the DLA mission and ensures employees get opportunities to grow. 

DLA currently supports five affinity programs including SAIGE, FAPAC, Blacks in Government, Federally Employed Women, Inc., and League of United Latin American Citizens.

Rana Corbin is the DLA Energy Equal Employment Opportunity specialist/disability program coordinator. She recognizes the difference affinity group workshops make to DLA Energy employees.

“I think the information employees bring back to the organization to share is invaluable,” she said. “It helps them understand what is going on outside their corner of the world and enriches diverse learning for all.”

Corbin encourages all DLA Energy employees to attend programs like this in the future.

“It is a great opportunity to learn from other government employees,” she said.