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We all love to celebrate the Fourth of July. It is, after all, the birthday of our country. We grill, watch fireworks, and spend quality time with family and friends – what isn’t there to love?
But as we celebrate the holiday and the gift of independence that our Founding Fathers gave us, I want to reflect for a moment on the gifts Americans have given us throughout history and continue to gift us every day.
Every generation, individuals have risen to the challenge to make real and meaningful contributions to society, from our revolutionary ancestors to modern space pioneers. They were at the forefront of the sciences, arts, and literature. They challenged the status quo. They fought for a more equitable world.
At 25, Booker T. Washington became the first leader of the Tuskegee Institute.
At 32, Dolores Huerta co-founded the National Farm Workers association, predecessor to the United Farm Workers.
At 25, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
Our history is filled with Americans rising to meet our nation’s challenges. And as Director of the Office of Personnel Management, I’m fortunate enough to see such incredible contributions being made throughout our Federal workforce.
These contributions are not limited to revolutionary eras or times of great hardship. They are not limited to age or ethnicity or gender or orientation. They are what we’ve come to expect throughout history. And they are what we get from our Federal employees as they work hard every day to serve the American people. Our Federal family continues to strive to fulfill our Founding Father’s vision and to set the bar for the next generation. They do it with the giving spirit that will motivate generations to come.
I know I will personally take time this weekend to honor the gifts of not only the great Americans who founded this nation, but also of those who continue to make our nation better today. I hope you will do the same.
Happy Independence Day.
What a week!
This year we took Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) to a new level. Each year, PSRW is our opportunity to thank Federal employees for all of the work they do for the American people. This year we did things just a little differently.
We went big on social media. On Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram we asked Federal employees to thank their colleagues, friends, and neighbors using the hashtag #FEDSpirit. We received so many creative, funny, and heartfelt thank you’s.
On Tuesday I was invited to throw out the first pitch at National’s Park as a part of Federal Employee Recognition Night. We invited five of the employees that were recognized for their #FEDSpirit to join me on the field for the first pitch. While it wasn’t the best night for our home team, it was a truly great night out with each other.
You don’t see that every day.
And right here in OPM we’ve been showing our spirit throughout the building and in our offices around the country. We’ve been taking pictures showing off our #FEDSpirit. We’ve shared food and ice cream. And we’ve taken the time to give our employees brown bags, webcasts, and other useful information. These kinds of activities didn’t just happen here. Every government agency honored their Federal employees in their own way.
It’s important to honor not only the work Federal employees do, but the
people who do it. The people who care for our veterans, manage federal
programs, and fight forest fires. The people who keep our skies safe,
our water clean, and our mail flowing. The people who discover new
medicines, protect our children, and represent us around the world.
They put in the extra effort to get the job done.
I wrote an Op-Ed this week to highlight their great work. Variations of it ran in the Washington Post and in other newspapers around the country.
I’ve been traveling the country for the past few months meeting with Federal employees from nearly every agency and hearing their concerns, their dreams, and their ideas. And I always say thank you.
I am getting the word out in every way I can. I want Federal employees to know just how much they matter.
I don’t believe we should thank our Federal workforce only once a year. All our Federal employees deserve thanks and recognition year round.
So join me. Help us keep it up. Take time to thank you colleagues, your friends, and your neighbors.
I am so honored to lead such a dedicated, talented and strong workforce.
Happy PSRW. Thank you for all you do each and every day.
Each May since 1977 we have celebrated the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to the American Story. During Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month we recognize the culture, traditions, history, and generations of AAPI community who have enriched America’s history and will be instrumental in its future success.
Members of the AAPI community were Chinese immigrants. It was their difficult manual labor that the transcontinental railroad was built in the late 1860;s Their efforts helped connect this great country, from the Pacific coast at San Francisco Bay to the existing Eastern U.S. rail network at Council Bluffs, Iowa, on the Missouri River.
Members of the AAPI community are federal employees and leaders of government. Christopher Lu is Deputy Secretary of Labor. Norman Mineta served as the Secretary of Transportation for President Clinton. Dr. Steven Chu served as President Obama’s Secretary of Energy.
Like America itself, the AAPI community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures.
The theme of this month is “I Am Beyond.” The phrase captures how Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have always sought to excel beyond the challenges that have limited equal opportunity in America.
What a wonderful message for us all. Nearly five years ago President Obama established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services.
In his proclamation commemorating AAPI Heritage Month this year, the President calls on us to “…recall our hard-fought progress, let us resolve to continue moving forward. Together, let us ensure the laws respect everyone, civil rights apply to everyone, and everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to get ahead.” You can read the President’s full proclamation on the White House's website.
As a former educator and community leader, I know the value of bringing together talented people with diverse ideas and perspectives to improve any organization. This is especially important for the Federal government. The complex and important work of government requires a diverse and inclusive workforce that is representative of the many important perspectives, talents, and backgrounds of our great country.
One of my major challenges and a priority for me as OPM Director is to increase the diversity of the Federal workforce. When I talk about diversity, I don’t just mean ethnic and racial diversity. I want to make sure that people of all ages, people with disabilities and people from every corner of this great country have opportunities.
With diversity comes inclusion. We need an inclusive workforce to serve the American people.
At OPM, the Asian American Pacific Islander American Employee Resource Group works to increase awareness of the Asian American and Pacific Islander cultures as an integral part of our agency’s mission. It supports the diversity and inclusion goals of our agency and provides opportunities for mentorship, support and development within the OPM community.
We also continue to support the programs of the Federal Asian Pacific American Council. I was honored that FAPAC representatives attended my reception after I was sworn in as OPM Director in December 2013.
So during this month and all through the year, let us focus on bringing together talented people with diverse ideas and perspectives. Like the AAPI community which draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures, we at OPM need to draw strength from the diversity we have within our agency.
I love visiting with Federal workers!
This past week I had the special opportunity to travel to Ft. Meade, Maryland to meet and share donuts and coffee with some dedicated OPM employees from our agency’s Federal Investigative Office and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO).
I met such talented and engaged employees like Elaine Bosserman, who has been at OPM for 8 of the 12 years she’s worked for the Federal government. Elaine is a FIS investigative case analyst who evaluates personnel security and suitability background investigations to make sure they meet our national security and quality standards. And I visited with Cassandra, who has served her country as a Federal employee for 33 years. For the past 8 years, Cassandra has supported OPM’s mission by overseeing a team that performs a number of record checks in connection with FIS background investigations.
My trip to Ft. Meade was my first visit in 2014 with OPM employees in the field, but it won’t be my last. One of my highest priorities as Director of OPM is to be a champion of Federal employees all across this great country. And I hope to carry that message personally to as many people in our Federal family as I can.
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