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As one of my favorite weeks of the year comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on how we honored our incredible Federal employees through Public Service Recognition Week. One of my goals as OPM Director is to make sure we recognize our Federal workforce each and every day. But it is especially important to set aside a week each year to thank our public servants for their dedication to the American people.
Every PSRW is unique and special, and this year was no exception. The week began with a Presidential Proclamation announcing the observance of PSRW. In his proclamation, the President reminds us that, “Public service is a calling which has meant so much to so many. It embodies our sense of shared values and reflects our drive to serve a cause beyond our own -- to give back to our nation, leave our mark, and nudge history forward. There is no greater opportunity to help more people or to make a bigger difference.”
To acknowledge this opportunity, we launched the #HonorTheOath campaign. This collaboration with a group of Excellence in Government fellows invites Federal employees to reflect on the oath that they take on their first day on the job. I encourage you to visit opm.gov/oath to see how employees honor the oath of office each day through serving the American people.
Across the Federal Government, agencies took the time to thank and recognize their employees. Here at OPM, we had a fantastic week of celebrations. We cheered at the Washington Nationals “Salute to Public Service” game, focused on health and wellness with a nutrition seminar and fitness walk to the Washington monument, highlighted employee resources at an information fair, and hosted a mentoring roundtable. We also used social media to honor our Federal family, including Federal retirees, veterans who have
transitioned to civil service, and Federal employees who have fallen
while serving the American people.
I was especially delighted to present our OPM Director’s Awards at a special town hall. More than 600 employees were singled-out by their peers. Our winners remind me of how privileged I am to work with so many talented and passionate individuals.
Employee engagement is one of the foundations of the Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion – or REDI – strategy that guides our work at OPM. Through events like PSRW, I want to make sure that our Federal workforce knows that their voices are heard and that their experiences matter. Each employee has an important role to play, and I embrace the challenge of helping workers rise to every opportunity.
One week is simply not enough time to fully celebrate the passion that Federal employees bring to their jobs, or the impact that they have on the lives of every American. I hope that PSRW is just the start of an ongoing conversation about the vital contributions of each member of America’s workforce.
Federal service is public service. That’s easy to forget sometimes because so much of what Federal employees do goes on behind the scenes. But America’s workforce affects every American every day.
Each day, all across this country, many Americans are fortunate to wake up in a society where they have clean water to drink, safe food to eat, beautiful parks, affordable and quality health care, and a growing economy.
Providing these and countless other services to the American people requires a Federal workforce that is talented, well-trained, and engaged in the workplace, is led by executives who inspire and motivate, and draws from the rich diversity of the people it serves.
The President is committed to supporting the model Federal workforce. In his proclamation on Public Service Recognition Week, the President said:
“In the face of difficult challenges, public servants give new life to the values that bind our Nation together. Civil servants are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home. And despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration, and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it.
With more than 2 million civilian workers and more than 1 million active duty service members, our Federal workforce represents extraordinary possibility. Our Government can and must be a force for good, and together, we can make sure our democracy works for all Americans. We know there are some things we do better when we join in common purpose, and with hard work and a commitment worthy of our Nation's potential, we can keep our country safe, guarantee basic security, and ensure everyone has a shot at success.“
We could not agree more. Federal service attracts people who are passionate about what they do. The mission of their agencies and their commitment to serving the American people are what drives them. And they come from – and work in – every corner of the country, reflecting the rich diversity and talent of this great country.
From the recent college graduate to the mid-career professional to the soon-to-be retiree, our employees are here to make a difference and to serve their country.
As we kick off Public Service Recognition Week, we hope you’ll take a moment to reflect on how America’s Federal workforce makes your life better each and every day. And we hope you’ll join the President in recognizing the hard work and dedication of our nation’s public servants. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.
Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.
Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Tonight is the Washington National’s “Salute to Public Service” game, and I’m excited to share the names of the five Federal employees I’ve asked to join me on the field when I throw out the first pitch.
For this year’s Public Service Recognition Week, OPM, with the support of a group of Excellence in Government fellows, decided to shine a light on something each and every employee does the first day on the job -- take the oath of office.
Being a Federal employee is about more than having a job. The #HonorTheOath campaign reminds us of the commitment each and every Federal employee makes when she or he begins a new job in the U.S. government.
Each of these individuals submitted a video explaining how they #HonorTheOath of office each day through serving the American people. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating them on when the Washington Nationals play the Miami Marlins this evening.
Francisco Leija, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, joined the White House Fellow program and the Department of Homeland Security after bravely serving his country during many tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He chose a life of public service to honor his parents, who immigrated to the United States seeking a better life for their family.
Margaret Miller Lenart is the recipient of multiple Director’s Awards at the Office of Personnel Management, where she works in Human Resources Solutions. She is passionate about helping other Federal agencies carry out their missions, recognizing that although she is “a little part in a big government…every day, [she helps] in a big way.”
Gail Morgado serves the Department of State in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, Office of Overseas Operations. In the midst of working in South Sudan during their self-determination vote, Gail was thrilled to be able to return to Washington, D.C. to take her oath of office in the presence of her family.
Michael Odle is a Public Affairs Specialist for the National Indian Gaming Commission in the Department of the Interior. As both a member of the Federal civil service and the Armed Forces, Michael believes it is his duty to represent and serve the American people.
Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a researcher at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Department of the Treasury. Prior to joining the Bureau, she was part of a six-person crew that participated in a four-month-long Mars analog mission funded by NASA. She is excited to use her knowledge of science and technology to secure U.S. currency at home and abroad.
Simply put, the submissions from these devoted Federal employees inspired me. Their passion for their country, their stellar work ethic, and their pledge to the American people reminds me of why I am so fortunate to be the Director of OPM. If you have a story to share, I encourage you to participate at opm.gov/oath.
Let’s make PSRW a true celebration of America’s workforce. Thank you again to all of the women and men who make our country strong.
I had the great privilege today of giving the commencement address at Miami Dade College for the Class of 2015. These students worked hard to make it across that stage. Many of them held down jobs while they pursued their degrees; some of them were raising families as they carved out time for studying and homework -- all the while keeping alive their hopes for a better life than perhaps their parents have had.
As I shared my own experiences with these impressive graduates, I also thought about the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative this week. It encourages students to continue on to higher education, and I was reminded that the inspiring scene I witnessed in Florida today is still out of reach for so many.
I was once discouraged from attending college myself, by a high school guidance counselor who could not see past my ethnicity and my family’s modest circumstances to envision the future that my good grades and work ethic made possible for me. I didn’t know when I was just starting out as a young student in Colorado that someday I would be part of the President’s leadership team. But, I told the Miami Dade College graduates, I did know that I had more in me than what those who discouraged me to aim high believed.
I also urged them to be passionate about what they do and to let their passions guide them. I have had many jobs -- teacher, school administrator, chief of staff to a big-city mayor and to Cabinet secretaries, and now the human resources leader for the largest employer in the country. And in each and every one of these positions, I have followed my deep commitment to strengthening the role of women and of people of color in public service. That passion has been my true north, and I encouraged the graduates to find the passion that will guide them.
I reminded them that character matters. Throughout my life, I have chosen not to dwell on the people or circumstances that could hold me back. I chose to celebrate the school administrator who saw my potential, the Denver leaders who recognized my commitment to public service and social justice, and the President who sought out my leadership skills. It is those individuals whose character I wished to emulate. I shared with the graduates my own discovery that character is shaped not just by what you do, but by whom you stand with and how you treat others.
And finally, I told them that if they are strong of character, committed to their own success, and determined to face and overcome their fears, they will be on a path that leads to all they’ve dreamed of.
From Japan to India to Samoa, and from Indonesia to Hawaii, Asian American and Pacific Islanders represent the diversity and traditions that enrich our collective cultural and political heritage. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year’s theme is APA Everywhere.
This year, the President is taking the unprecedented step of hosting a White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on May 12. Attendees from across the country, including many Federal employees, will participate in a full day of programs on health, education, civil rights, immigration, and the arts. I share the President’s deep commitment to make sure we value the contributions of all our communities and that we build a Federal workforce that draws on the rich diversity of our great country.
The President demonstrates his commitment to inclusion by continuing to bring talented and innovative Asian-American leaders into the administration. Jane Chu is the new Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. And Michelle Lee is the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to heading agencies, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are serving at all levels within the Federal workforce.
All of us in the Federal Government have a responsibility to recruit Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who can make important contributions to the essential work we do to keep America running. That’s why OPM is participating with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council in a Student Pathway Seminar and Career Fair on May 6. I want to make sure that we only not only have as many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders serving our country as possible, but that they have a seat at every decision-making table.
That’s what inclusion is all about. We launched the REDI Roadmap this year so that we could develop an even more diverse and engaged workforce. REDI stands for Recruitment, Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion. Through REDI, we are determined to help applicants from every community in this great country successfully navigate the hiring process.
During the month of May, I encourage you to learn all you can about AAPI history. At OPM, our Asian American and Pacific Islander American Employee Resource Group and other organizations across the Federal Government will be holding presentations, discussions, and other events during this month.
As America’s workforce continues to become more diverse and more inclusive, this diversity of experience, perspectives, and talent will help us even more successfully serve the American people.
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