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News | March 18, 2020

BIG day of empowerment

By DLA Energy Public Affairs

Uplifted and inspired were a few of the positive words used to describe the 2020 Defense Logistics Agency Blacks in Government Chapter’s Day of Empowerment Annual Training Symposium at the McNamara Headquarters Complex, Feb. 26. 

It was a congenial and informative setting for the symposium’s two motivational speakers; Oliver Allen, Jr., found and chief executive officer for Training and Development Strategies, LLC, and Bruce Thomas, director of DLA Installation Support Security and Emergency Services.

DLA Energy Deputy Commander Eric Smith provided opening comments.

“To be a good leader, you must learn to be a good follower,” Smith said. “The most important thing in being empowered is to be prepared. Do you have a short and long-term plan to achieve your career or personal goals?” he asked the audience.  

“The one thought I want to leave with you is to always take the hard right over the easy wrong,” Smith added.

Allen, a retired Army veteran and prior Equal Employment Opportunity officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration, encouraged the audience to connect with others through the following suggestions.  

“Be impeccable with your words and always take responsibility for your actions,” Allen said. “But, do not blame or judge yourself.”

“Have a mentor and a ‘board of directors’ complete with people you look up to, and be plugged into something whether it is faith or something else you can derive power from.” 

Don’t take things personally, Allen said. Taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.”

Thomas, a prominent DLA leader, spoke of the value of being a “leader-follower.” 

“You can’t be a good leader if you aren’t a good follower,” he said, citing examples and encouraging the audience to be aware of when to lead and when to follow. 

Evelyn Prince, a DLA Energy employee and BIG member, enjoyed the training exercises and presentations. 

“The presenters used real-life scenarios, and I got something from it today,” she said. “This was an interactive day from start to finish.” 

Myra Austin, also an Energy employee, thought the guest speakers did exceptionally well. 

“I left this year’s BIG training symposium feeling empowered,” she said. “This is an annual event, and already, I’m looking forward to the next one.”

Austin’s sentiment resonated across the room. Attendees universally rated the event as “excellent” and “extremely helpful” in evaluations, stating they would attend again in the future and invite co-workers or managers to join them.

DLA’s BIG Chapter President Larry McCauley described the day as an opportunity to give back to members for their dedication to service. 

The 70-member DLA BIG chapter is active both in the workplace holding regular networking and professional development opportunities and in the local community adopting an elementary school and two homeless shelters. For more information about BIG and future events, please contact Angela Jones at or Brandi Carpenter at