Richmond’s Strategic Acquisition’s deputy director speaks at Women’s Equality Day

By Bonnie Koenig DLA Aviation Public Affairs

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Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, employees celebrated Women's Equality Day Aug. 31 in the Lotts Conference Center with guest speaker, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation's Army Col. Kim Thomas, a decorated military leader with over 21 years of commissioned service and the current deputy director of Strategic Acquisition Programs Directorate.

Thomas spoke about her military career beginning as a private first class, her personal mentors and the importance of celebrating Women’s Equality Day.

A Georgia native, Thomas said her mentors, first and foremost, were her mother, grandmothers and aunts.  She was the first woman in her family to attend college and join the military and said it is important to have a role model in the military because it helps guide your future.  Thomas holds a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, a Master of Science in strategic studies, a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Science in acquisition management.

Thomas said she was acutely aware of the challenges women encounter in a male-dominated career field, but found out early on that it was important not to be afraid and to take risks. “It is good to have a career plan, but don’t be afraid to accept opportunities that may open doors in the future,” said Thomas.

Among her other role models were: Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut in space; Opra Winfrey, talk show host and philanthropist; Maya Angelo and Alice Walker, literary authors and Venus and Serena Williams, world tennis champions.

In demonstrating how far women have progressed Thomas said, “For the first time in U.S. military history women have been able to contribute to any Department of Defense military occupation as long as they meet the specific required standards.” Thomas also pointed out, according to a Carnegie School of Business report, women comprise 14 percent of the military and two percent are top corporate business presidents, chief executive officers, or chairpersons. “As we reflect on Women’s Equality Day, lets reflect on the many benefits that our culture of inclusion brings to our country,” said Thomas.

“Whether you are a service member, a wife, mother, daughter, or a sister of a service member, thanks to all who have contributed to our culture and our nation,” she said.

During this same event, DLA Aviation leaders participated in a panel discussion on the topic of Women's Equality during an "Ask A Leader" segment of the program. 

DLA Aviation’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office and Supplier Operations Commodities Directorate sponsored this year’s program.  Cassandra Julien, integrated supplier team chief and event coordinator said having this event is important for spreading the word about this important day in history.

Other events during the month included posters of notable women in history were displayed around the installation and a movie, ‘Suffragette’ highlighting the suffrage movement.

Julien said, “In celebrating we can reflect on the brave suffragists who helped secure the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote nearly 100 years ago. The suffragists who tirelessly advocated for the 19th Amendment knew that voting is the most powerful act a citizen can make and would strengthen the polls if women were included. Celebrating that day is in honor of those brave women and men who engaged and empowered all voters to register to vote.  Without the 19th amendment, women could not vote. Not only is the day about the 19th Amendment, it also shows women's continuous fight for equality.”

Women’s Equality Day is celebrated each year by presidential proclamation, to commemorate the granting of women’s right to vote in the United States, on August 26, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified as law.