FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
Women’s History Month Spotlight: Imani Mitchell, DLA Energy protocol officer
Editor's note: This year’s Women’s History Month theme is "Nevertheless She Persisted" and honors women who are committed to ending discrimination against women and girls and work with strength, tenacity and courage to overcome obstacles and achieve joyful accomplishments. Throughout the month of March, DLA Energy will highlight a few employees who go to great strides to embody this spirit.
Explain your role and responsibilities as a protocol officer:
As the DLA Energy protocol officer, I am responsible for the planning, execution and management of conduct for DLA Energy command office meetings, official visits and events. This often includes ensuring proper etiquette and courtesies are extended to local and foreign dignitaries; planning and providing support for formal meetings, conferences, programs, promotions and ceremonies; and answering all protocol-related questions and action item requests as needed.
What did you do before coming to DLA Energy?
I began my DLA tenure at DLA Troop Support as a Student Career Experience Program employee in July 2010 and completed the DLA Pathways to Career Excellence Program in July 2013. In January 2018, when I left DLA Troop Support to become the protocol officer, I had worked my way up to a contracting officer and team lead for the Material Handling and Ground Support Integrated Support Team in the Construction and Equipment Directorate. In this capacity, I was responsible for both pre- and post-award functions for a wide range of simplified and highly complex government contracts for all military services; and reviewing and approving contracts for four contracting specialists.
When did you get involved with the DLA Headquarters Rotation Program?
I was selected to work as a rotational strategic analyst in the DLA Office of the Director from January through December 2017. During this assignment, I spearheaded several high-level projects such as the establishment of the Director’s Strategic Initiative Group; curating an agency-wide transition book for the incoming DLA director; and orchestrating high-level briefs for distinguished visitors, generals and flag officers, political appointees and congressional staffers. I also assisted with the drafting and editing of the command group’s talking points, information papers, strategic communications and speeches.
If you could have a conversation with any activist, who would it be and why?
It would be my grandfather, Dr. Daniel C. Moss, Jr. (deceased). My grandfather was the first African American board certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon in the state of Florida. While getting his undergraduate degree at Claflin University, he worked diligently with the NAACP to organize marches and protests against the discrimination of African Americans at the local theater in downtown Orangeburg, South Carolina. As a dental student, he participated in the March on Washington protest in 1963. My grandfather continued to give back generously through his time and treasure to the community and former educational institutions; so much that an auditorium is dedicated to him at Claflin University, where I too am a proud alumnus. Although he passed before I was born, I have always admired his legacy of activism and "paying it forward" that left for me and so many others to model after.
How are you honoring this year’s Women’s History Month theme of "Nevertheless She Persisted"?
Just like my grandfather, and so many others I admire, I too seek to be someone who leaves a legacy of tenacity, faith and achievement. While I have had my share of challenges and barriers [whether due to discrimination of gender, age, race, or even just the obstacles that life brings], I still have a lifetime of more to come. I have learned many lessons as I persisted through them. The most important lesson thus far is that I had to redefine what success and achievement meant to me and not base my metrics of achievement and legacy through society’s lens. I honor this month’s theme by not only seeking after my own self-improvement and advancement, but also intentionally celebrating the lives and achievements of other women who may feel devalued because of where they are in their journey. As the co-founder of an up-and-coming organization that taps into the beauty of honoring women wherever they are in their journey towards success, we emphasize self-worth through the power of identifying purpose. Prayerfully, the organization will officially launch by the end of March 2018. How ironic!
If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself about the future?
If I could go back in time, I would tell myself that it is OK if plans do not go as planned. I have found that I spend more time trying to plan every step of my path as opposed to enjoying the path being laid before me. I often prematurely stress myself out and miss the opportunities to embrace the unexpected.
What advice would you like to tell today's workforce?
Don’t let bad moments become the catalyst for bad days. Find one thing about your job/life that is good and let that be what motivates you to stay positive and keep going.
Have you had an influential mentor in your career?
I have had many influential people contribute to my professional journey and development. I cannot dare to single anyone out, but I will say that I take none of them for granted and thank God for them daily. I would not be where I am today if it was not for those that believed in me and my potential (even when I didn’t).
How are you paying it forward?
When possible, I do my best to share my experiences and lessons learned with other young adults who are also navigating through their careers. I often work with college students and recent graduates by assisting them with developing resumes, personal statements, grants and business plans. I desire to be a blessing to others just as so many have been a blessing to me.
Do you have a favorite quote or saying?
Some of my favorite quotes are: "Complacency breeds mediocrity and suffocates potential," "Broken crayons still color the same," and "You must be willing, at any moment, to give up who you are for you who are to become."