News | Jan. 13, 2022

DSCC celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observance virtually

By Kristin Molinaro DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

The Defense Federal Community celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jan. 12, with a live-streamed panel discussion sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Office of Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity’s African American Employment Committee.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is officially observed on the third Monday in January as a national day of service. The theme of this year’s observance was Dignity, Excellence, Worth: What’s Your Life’s Blueprint? (.pdf from DrMartinLutherKingJr.com)

DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Kristen Fabry opened the virtual program and underscored how the day’s theme translates to daily operations.

“We must all possess the character and capabilities needed if we’re to succeed in any undertaking - and above all we must have a plan to achieve our desired objective,” she said. “That’s the benchmark Dr. King established throughout his entire life’s work and we’re still embracing his inspiration and advocating his blueprint today.”

Prior to the commander’s remarks, Land and Maritime’s resident saxophonist Wynueco Washington performed the National Anthem and Dr. King himself delivered the event’s invocation via a video tribute.

With opening festivities completed, program moderator Alonzo Burris introduced the three featured panelists and launched into a series of thought-provoking questions. Featured panelists were DLA Land and Maritime’s Engineering and Technical Support Director Eugene Williams; Site Comptroller and DLA Finance Director William Pascol, IV; and DLA Information Operations’ Technical Environment and Application Support Division Deputy Dewey Ortiz.

Questions ranged from how to develop future leaders to reach their maximum potential to panelists’ experiences with finding and pursuing their own Life’s Blueprint.

“Life will be a series of successes and failures – make failure just another opportunity for you to succeed,” Ortiz said, recounting maxims that helped him push through adversity in his career. “The colored man has given much to make this country what it is. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But there’s so much more he has to do so do your part so that others can follow. This is very important for me and it has carried me through my life – both as an adult and as a career employee – that it’s important to do my part, so that’s my encouragement for others as well.”

When asked about key qualities for someone interested in advancing within DLA, panelist William Pascol shared 10 skills he considered imperative – ranging from resilience and self-management to technical knowledge and wisdom. Pascol transitioned from professional football to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Columbus prior to his DLA career. 

“Practice wisdom and patience,” he said. “I know so many people who are so bright but don’t have a lot of wisdom. You can’t take on everything – everything can’t be important because if everything’s important nothing’s important. Know when to fight the battle, know when not to.”

Citing the importance of developing subordinate staff to reach their potential, Pascol encouraged leaders to make sure they’re hiring the right person for the job and to set standards early.

“Hire people that want to maximize their potential,” he said. “We spend so much time because that’s such a commitment and it’s so important. So start there. And set the standard early and often. When you walk in the door, I’m going to tell you two things: I expect you to be great at our mission and I expect you to take care of your people. If you’re not a supervisor, be great at your mission and take care of each other.”

Panelist Eugene Williams responded to a question posed about what he wishes he’d known in the early days of his career by reflecting on a time when he was a new DLA Land and Maritime supervisor. Williams is a retired U.S. Army officer who served in field artillery, civil affairs and the acquisition corps prior to his civil service career.  He listed a series of former associates who taught him valuable lessons that he’s carried forward in his career.

“I wish I would’ve said thank you more. I believe none of us are self-made and I also believe all of us are like balls of clay that are shaped and molded by many people,” Williams said, recounting the wisdom of several associates by name who impacted him – from a GS4 clerk to acquisition professionals.

Returning to the program’s theme, Williams spoke on Dr. King’s legacy and incorporating his teachings into daily life.

“Brother King taught me it’s okay to be scared as a leader and it’s also okay to lean on your faith,” Williams said. “Martin Luther King [would tell] a story sometimes about when Coretta Scott King and the kids were asleep, he was in the kitchen at night in his house in Montgomery, Alabama, and he just broke down and started crying. And he fell on bended knee. He was so afraid, so afraid – they’d bombed his house, his life had been threatened and people being killed because of him – and he wasn’t sure if he could actually do this thing: lead the Civil Rights Movement. And he cried, and he cried, and he cried...and then he got on bended knee. And then he got up the next day and he was ready to start all over. I take that seriously because there’s not a day that I don’t come inside this building, that when I drive into the parking lot I say ‘God, need you to direct me today, because I don’t know what’s coming my way. I don’t know what email’s waiting on me, I don’t know what call I’ll receive. Direct me because there’s people waiting on me to say yay or nay.’”  

Following several more questions posed to the panelists, African American Employment Program Executive Champion Kenneth Goodson delivered closing remarks thanking all participants for “sharing so many meaningful messages and thoughts which reflect the footprints of [Dr. King’s] legacy.”

“It’s important that we understand and recognize the life blueprints that we leave for others.”