News | Feb. 8, 2018

Black History Month Employee Spotlight: John Phinisey, III, DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro

By DLA Energy Public Affairs

Editor's note: This year's Department of Defense Black History month theme is “African Americans in Times of War.” DLA Energy will highlight several key individuals during Black History month.

What is your job title? I am the DLA Energy Americas at San Pedro deputy director. I am responsible for the end-to-end integrated material management of over $2 billion in annual bulk petroleum and energy support to more than 130 Department of Defense bases and federal activities in the 11 states of the Rocky Mountains and western United States.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself about the future? To quote Les Brown, I would tell myself, “It’s possible.” When I left the Air Force, all my plans fell apart, and I experienced a deep sense of failure; however, I didn’t give up. I took time to learn about myself, set goals and develop a process which led me to do things I never thought I could do, go places I only read about in books, and meet amazing people during my journey.   

What advice would you like to tell today’s workforce? Be yourself and take time to understand your place in the universe. Do not let cultural stereotypes define who you are and how successful you can become. Despite what people may say, set your goals, trust the process and be yourself.   

Have you had an influential mentor in your career? Yes, several and they continue to help me in my career. I believe it is important to have mentors for the different aspects of your personal and professional development. My mentors believed in me when I did not believe in myself and challenged me when I needed it most. Additionally, a mentor/mentee relationship can occur at any time, it does not always have to be an official meeting with someone.   

How are you paying it forward? I have made it a point to actively give back to not only our team in Americas West at San Pedro but also throughout the federal workforce in Los Angeles and surrounding counties. Currently, I mentor an analyst with the Department of Justice through the Greater Los Angeles Federal Executive Board’s Leadership Associates Program. I participated in activities with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Los Angeles Medical Center and other FEB sponsored events. Additionally, I have participated in the DLA Energy mentoring program.   

If you could have a conversation with a civil rights activist, who would it be and why? I would want to speak with James Baldwin. His analysis and commentary of our society and culture along with his intellect and speaking abilities have always fascinated me. It would be intriguing and thought provoking to sit with him and discuss his analysis of how our nation and society have evolved through the 1960s.