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Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a great way to really learn what they do every day, and how we can make their lives better. This week, I joined the President’s “Day in the Life” effort. Throughout the summer, senior administrators are traveling the country speaking with -- and learning from -- the people we work for every day.
While in Los Angeles this past week, I had such fun spending time with two extraordinary individuals – Matthew Gonzales, a Federal employee at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, and Megan Rodriguez, an Air Force veteran who works for the state of California as an employment assistant helping other veterans find jobs. Both are young Latinos driven by a passion for public service.
Matthew entered the Federal government as a Pathways intern, a program that brings the best young talent into government and sets them on the path to a Federal career. Matthew is now a civilian program manager at the space and missile center. He also co-led the first chapter of Young Government Leaders in Los Angeles.
Matthew shared something that really made an impression on me. At his job, there is always a lot going on and he is experiencing and doing many things for the first time. But, he said, with pride, while he is not always expected to know everything right away, he is always expected to learn. Matthew knows he has the support and tools that he needs to keep growing, and that is part of the reason why he believes the Federal government is a great place to start his career. That spirit of service is exactly what our nation needs. And I know that Matthew is one of hundreds of thousands of Federal employees with that same enthusiasm.
Megan has a passion for helping fellow veterans find jobs. While attending Mount St. Mary’s College, she founded its Veterans Outreach Association and she has continued that work now that she has graduated. We discussed our shared passion for helping women veterans get Federal jobs, especially STEM jobs. She would be a great fit in the Federal government.
In Matthew and Megan, I saw so many positive qualities: passion, dedication, an overwhelming desire to help people, a call to service, and a truly hopeful vision of the future. These young professionals remind me what it was like to once walk in shoes similar to theirs. I know there are obstacles they face each day, but their commitment to public service makes me confident we will continue to have a diverse, talented, caring, and devoted Federal workforce. Their insights helped me understand firsthand what young Latinos are thinking and what we need to do to attract them to Federal service.
I was glad to be able to tell them that we are already working hard to increase the number of Federal employees from underrepresented communities and to support and develop them in their careers. They share my commitment that we have a workforce that truly represents the bright mosaic of the American family.
So really, we learned a lot from each other. If we take the time to stop, listen, and just for a moment, put ourselves in another’s shoes, we’ll keep learning. And that makes all the difference.
As the first Latina Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, one of my highest priorities is to recruit a diverse Federal workforce. As part of that effort, last week I attended the League of United Latin American Citizens’ annual conference. LULAC is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. For 85 years, it has fought for civil rights, education rights, legal rights, housing rights, and employment rights.
LULAC shares OPM’s goal of promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. We both know how important it is to have a government that looks like and truly represents the people we serve. Americans benefit from the talent, the wisdom, the experience, and the insights of people from every community in our country.
We do a lot of great work with organizations like LULAC. Along with other Federal agencies, OPM is a partner in its Federal Training Institute, which helps to train and mentor the next generation of Latino leaders.
As part of the President’s Management Agenda, OPM is placing a renewed emphasis on leadership pipelines. We want to ensure that all groups, including Latinos, are fully represented in the workplace. We are working on an onboarding program to make sure that new Senior Executive Service members have the support and coaching they need, not only when they first begin their assignment, but throughout their tenure. And we are focusing on mentoring. Connecting with leaders in our own communities can give us the help and direction we need. We all need mentors and should strive to be mentors to others.
The National Council of La Raza is another leader in the Latino community, and I look forward to speaking at their annual conference in Los Angeles next week. While I’m there, I will also meet with Latino students at several colleges, sharing with them what the Federal government’s employment needs are and asking what would entice them to consider a career in Federal service.
When I visit with these organizations and their members, I get the chance to do something I can’t do anywhere else: Hear firsthand the perspectives I need to make our strategies the best they can possibly be. My commitment to a diverse and inclusive Federal workforce is unshakable. Together, we can make sure Latinos are represented at every level of Federal service, especially at every decision-making table.
Today is it. This is the last day for Americans to enroll in an Affordable Care Act Marketplace. And I want to make a special appeal to the Latino community to keep working until the last minute to get the word out.
In the past month I’ve traveled to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Houston, Miami and Phoenix. I’ve concentrated on the Latino community because we lack health insurance in greater numbers than others. I am determined to get us covered – NOW.
We heard last week that more than 6 million Americans have signed up and that the virtual lines are long in the Marketplaces. That’s great. But we can’t let up.
In order to be assured of health coverage for the coming year enrollees have to have started the sign up process by midnight. Just like on an Election Day, as long as people are in line before midnight they’ll be given time to complete the enrollment process.
The resources are there for Latinos. In addition to healthcare.gov there is cuidadodesalud.gov. The call center – 1-800-318-2596 - has Spanish speaking operators waiting to help.
This is it. Spread the word anyway you can.
Let’s get everyone covered NOW!
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