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Federal employees are diverse. They represent every nationality, ethnicity, and faith. They reflect the great mosaic of the American people they serve. As part of National Hispanic Heritage Month and throughout the year, I will be highlighting some of these employees to illustrate just how powerful that diversity can be.

Hilda Reyes is an IT technical advisor at the Internal Revenue Service in Austin, Texas. She began her career as a GS 5 directly out of college and is now in a GS 15 management position.

Like me, Hilda also spends time with high school students, telling them about the careers and opportunities in Federal service that they may not be aware of, specifically in the IT field. She has it right when she says “That’s the state of the future. This is where we need to be going.” 

I couldn’t agree more.

Three Things to Know about Hilda:

  1. She was inspired to become a Federal employee because she grew up in a military family. 
  2. She worked in the Navy reserves for 21 years while also a Federal employee.
  3. She goes out to community centers in low-income areas of Texas and helps Spanish-speaking Americans file their taxes.

Photo of Hispanic Federal employee Hilda Reyes, who is an IT technical advisor at the IRS. 

The much anticipated application period for the Presidential Management Fellows program is about to open. Beginning this Wednesday, October 1, through October 15, students or recent graduates of advanced degree programs can apply to be Presidential management fellows.  The program is open to people who will have received an advanced degree between October 1, 2012 and August 31, 2015.

Created by President Carter by Executive Order in 1977, this prestigious fellowship gives graduates the chance to put their passion for public service into action.  It’s a great way to begin the first steps of your Federal career.

A unique aspect of the program is the STEM track, which gives applicants in a STEM career the opportunity to apply specifically to this program and be considered only for STEM jobs in agencies across government. It allows agencies to find STEM candidates faster and more efficiently. There are many ways to have a STEM career in government. From NASA to the Department of the Interior, more agencies than you may think need people in STEM careers. In fact, more than 300,000 Federal employees are working in the STEM fields.

PMFs are offered nearly 160 hours of classroom-based training, a Senior Executive Service mentor, at least one developmental opportunity at another office or agency, and the potential to convert to permanent employee status when they complete the program. There’s no other opportunity like it.

If you are interested in applying to the program, I highly encourage you to attend our question and answer session via Adobe Connect. On October 8 from 1:30-3:30pm ET, you will hear directly from our PMF staff and have your questions answered. You should also take a look at the PMF Assessment Preparation Guide that will help you prepare for the three-part assessment process that is part of the application.

If you are eligible for the PMF program, I hope you apply. It has given many Federal leaders the start to their careers. From NASA to right here at OPM, being a PMF fellow can take you almost anywhere in government you want to go. Come serve with us. Help us make a difference for the American people. 

It’s always exciting when the great work by our OPM team gets recognized. Our Human Resource Solutions division – the group that provides high quality human capital services, support, and training for so many of our Federal partners – and our Senior Executive Services and Performance Management division – the group that manages the overall Federal executive personnel program – were recently singled out by four organizations for their outstanding efforts.

HRS’ USA Performance Team received two accolades at the Nextgov Bold Awards, which are given to individuals who conceive of and implement bold ideas for using technology to improve the way government serves the public. HRS was cited for its work creating the first government-wide software service performance management system -- USA Performance. The team also received the People’s Choice Award, after receiving the most votes on Nextgov’s online poll.

The USA Performance Team lead, Rebecca Ayers, was recognized by another organization, Federal Computer Week. She and her team provide training to Federal employees on work-life and telework issues. Federal Computer Week named her a Rising Star for 2014, describing her as a Federal IT employee making a difference.

OPM’s Center for Leadership Development, which provides training to senior executives across government, took first place for the public sector from ELearning! Magazine as its Top Learning Organization. The magazine recognized CLD’s outstanding efforts training Federal leaders in critical professional skills that keep them competitive and productive. The center’s programs are designed to help leaders drive organizational excellence, and they are known around the country for their outstanding quality in preparing leaders for global challenges. CLD’s fantastic work deserves the great recognition it received.

Our Senior Executive Services and Performance Management division was recognized for an online leadership course titled “Executive Excellence and Wellness through Strategic Leadership,” which was created in partnership with OPM contractor PowerTrain, Inc. It won two Bronze-level Horizon Interactive Awards in the categories of Websites-Training/E-Learning and Websites-Government Agency. The Horizon Interactive Awards program, which recognizes excellence in interactive media, based its awards on originality and creativity, strong graphic design, appearance and user experience, technical sophistication and effectiveness in communicating a message and producing solutions. The course is housed on and is one of the top-10 highest rated courses by the site’s users.

I am so very proud of our OPM team members. They are a perfect example of what our employees accomplish every day. Together, we are innovating, leading, and serving the American people.


As I work with the President to build a world-class Federal management team, I have launched an important series of meetings that we are calling Thought Leader Talks.

The three-part series is bringing together inspired and innovative leaders from a wide array of sectors -- government, business, good government groups, academia, and global organizations -- to discuss the future of executive leadership. These discussions will give us an opportunity to leverage our combined expertise to advance senior leadership for the Federal government. We will work together to not only address the challenges we are currently facing, but also to share best practices from our individual worlds.

During our inaugural session on September 12, we discussed the future of leadership. Specifically, we explored the qualities successful leaders need and ways to succeed in tight fiscal times. We also discussed the difficulties of engaging multiple generations of employees.

The meeting quickly zeroed in on millennials. They are the future of the Federal workforce and of the leadership of that workforce. We addressed our responsibility to recruit them to public service and to prepare them to take over for the current generation. We know from studies that these young people are driven by a desire to make a difference in the world. They want to help people and bring change in the policy areas they care about. In short, they are perfect for public service. Now we need to tackle the challenges of bringing them on board.

At our meetings in October and November, we will address two additional topics: ways to develop leaders using simulations of actual workplace situations and the future of assessment and performance. Both discussions are vital to understanding how we develop the strongest leadership teams possible, which is a key priority for the President and for me.

I am thrilled that these meetings are bringing together a diverse and talented group of leaders to tackle such an important topic. Regardless of our missions, we all face many of the same complex challenges. We all have a need for excellence in leadership. Together, we will continue to combine our unique expertise, experiences, and perspectives to move us toward a future that raises the bar for leaders, for the Federal workforce, and for executive performance across the nation.

Until October 15, we are celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Latino community has given us so many traditions, so much culture and history, and also countless achievements, particularly when it comes to serving our great country. As the first Latina Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I see it as my mission to continue this tradition of service and to carry on a proud legacy.

So for me, Hispanic Heritage Month is about honoring the Latino government leaders who have come before me. I stand on the shoulders of the first Latino Cabinet member, Lauro Cavazos and Antonia Cello Novella, the first Hispanic U.S. Surgeon General (and the first woman to hold that position). I also have the honor of standing on the shoulders of my friends and mentors, including Federico Pena, who was Secretary of two departments – Transportation and Energy; of Henry Cisneros, the first Latino HUD Secretary, of Ken Salazar who led the Interior Department and of Bill Richardson, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy. And of course, I am lucky enough to stand on the shoulders of Hilda Solis, the first Latina to head the Department of Labor and my boss when I served as her chief of staff.

These fine leaders made it possible for me to lead OPM, for Secretary Perez to be leading the Department of Labor, for Secretary Castro to be heading HUD, and for Maria Contreras-Sweet to be the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

What once we thought was the impossible is now the routine. There is never going to be a time in Federal leadership when Latinos are not going to be represented.
But we need to work to not only continue this progress, but also to make sure Latinos, and people from every underrepresented community, are present at every decision-making table. It is crucial that we have diversity at every level of Federal service.

As OPM Director, this is one of my most important goals. And one of the best ways to ensure that the Federal workforce better reflects the people it serves is for us to transform the way the government recruits and attracts the next generation of Federal employees.

To better attract Latinos to government, I’ve been working with OPM’s Hispanic Council on Federal Employment. The council is focusing on two areas, the Senior Executive Service and recruitment, especially at colleges and universities.

I have been to 11 colleges and universities around the country, including seven Hispanic- serving Institutions. We are working with these colleges and universities to help them match their curriculums to the needs of our 21st Century Federal workforce.

OPM is also enhancing the tools we are using to attract a diverse Federal workforce, particularly when it comes to Millennials. I know that Latinos, especially the young, are heavy users of social media. So we are going to them on the platforms they use instead of waiting for them to come to us. We’re also putting job descriptions in plain language and using humor and graphics to make sure the outreach is friendly, appropriate, and well received.

We still have a lot to do and we’re working our hardest to ensure that every community is represented in government. So, as we continue to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, let’s honor together the accomplishments of those who have paved the way for the Latino community. And let’s make sure to pay it forward by working to ensure we recruit the next generation of Latino leaders for the Federal government.



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