News | Jan. 13, 2021

DLA Aviation-Jacksonville named EEO Organization of the Year

By Cathy Hopkins DDLA Aviation Publics Affairs Office

Winners in the 53rd Annual DLA Recognition Awards program were announced Dec. 5. Defense Logistics Agency Aviation-Jacksonville won the 2020 Achievement in Equal Employment Opportunity by an Organization.

The competition evaluated organizations in demonstrated commitment from agency leadership, management and program accountability, proactive prevention of unlawful discrimination, and efficiency for the period from Oct. 1, 2019 – Sept. 30, 2020.

“The Jacksonville team is honored and excited to receive this award,” said Navy Cmdr. Curtis Ceaser, the site commander for DLA Aviation-Jacksonville, which is located on Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida.  “The team’s commitment to equal opportunity and diversity inclusion is a point of pride for the organization.” He said their commitment is specifically highlighted in robust Special Emphasis Program initiatives in which the entire team participates and enjoys.  

With the challenges created in the last half of this award period by COVID-19, the DLA Aviation-Jacksonville [workforce] demonstrated exceptional resiliency in sustaining momentum for continuing with their remarkable accomplishments in a virtual environment, said Sylvester Abramowicz in his narrative write-up for the award submission.  Abramowicz was the deputy commander of the activity during the award period; he retired from federal civil service at the end of December.

He said the command remained committed to embracing the commander’s “One Team One Fight” esprit de corps motto and focused on methodically tackling the various initiatives outlined in the organization’s culture plan.

Accomplishments during the award period included:

  • No EEO cases or union grievances for two consecutive years.
  • Seventy-nine percent of promotions being filled by targeted women and minority groups.
  • Weekly professional development training for supervisors, senior- and junior-level employees.
  • Employee recognition was a key emphasis area. This award period two of its’ Employee of the Month nominees won honors as DLA Aviation Employee of the Month, and one additional employee was recognized for the DLA director’s “You Done Good” program.
  • More than 80% employee participation in quarterly diversity and inclusion events planned by employee volunteer committee members.
  • Monthly Hail/Farewell and team building events to foster team unity for a workforce dispersed across the widespread facilities.

This past year, the activity expanded participation in its SEP program by sponsoring and coordinating an inclusion event with Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in recognition of the National Disability Awareness Employment Month and by participating in a community out-reach event in the city of Jacksonville at the Clara White Mission in recognition of the National Women’s History Month.

According to Ceaser, the volunteer committee members also delivered a hugely popular Women’s History Month program and facilitated a virtual Jeopardy-style competition between teams.

John Villanueva, a customer support manager in Jacksonville, agreed that a strong, dynamic SEP contributed to the activity receiving the award.

Carmelo Sustache, a demand planner with the activity, agrees Villanueva, and said regardless of ethnic background the team’s can-do attitude contributes to each event celebration.

“Another reason is because of the “Peer Pat” recognition program wherein employees recognize their peers,” said Villanueva. “In addition, there is the “Center Stage” wherein employees get to be featured monthly and we get to know aspects of their lives outside the confines of daily work.

Bennora Simmons, a supervisor cell chief for Industrial Planning and Support Branch at Jacksonville, said leadership’s goal is that everyone has a voice, so it does not matter who is over the program, everyone is encouraged to participate or spearhead different events they feel passionate about. 

“The activity exemplifies the feeling of togetherness,” she said. “I think we won this award because the folks like being able to recognize and celebrate each other's past and present and contribute to the future.  The information learned helps us to appreciate what each one of us can bring to the table to make our organization a success.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the award ceremony will be recorded and released to the DLA workforce Jan. 26.