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Mentoring is a two-way street. There are times in all our careers when we need help and guidance from a colleague or friend. And, we can learn as much from those we mentor as we can from those who advise us.
January is National Mentoring Month. Since 2010, the President has called on us to set aside time to communicate how mentoring can help us give back, support each other, and develop a world-class Federal workforce.
The Administration believes in mentoring. The President launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative that focuses on helping our youth, including through mentorship relationships. The First Lady leads the “Reach Higher” initiative that encourages campus groups and college students to connect with high school students who need role models who can help them envision a college degree.
At OPM, we are helping agencies and employees across government encourage and institute ways to match mentors and mentees and learn more about the value of mentoring.
Since last summer, we have been piloting a government-wide mentoring hub that brings together mentors and mentees. We plan to launch this program across government later this year. We have also developed the SES Situational Mentoring Program to help senior executives deal with specific challenges or opportunities. In cooperation with agencies across government, OPM is also taking the lead on the Executive Women in Motion initiative where SES members serve as mentors in an effort to encourage more women to join the executive ranks.
Agencies across government also have designed their own mentoring programs. In addition to helping mentors and mentees connect, at OPM we are celebrating mentoring month by holding a Mentor Shadowing Day, situational mentoring roundtables, and speed mentoring sessions.
I’d like to invite Federal employees across government to join us Tuesday, February 23, at our Washington, D.C. headquarters or via webcast for a program entitled “Why Mentoring Matters.” Our guest speaker will be Christina Goldfuss, managing director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, who will talk about how mentoring has influenced her career.
This event was moved to February because of the snow storm.
Federal employees who would like to attend the event in person can go to hru.gov to get registration information. The link to view the webcast is: http://web.2.c3.audiovideoweb.com/ca25web26002/7c3flslive1573.html
At OPM we believe mentoring is a critical element in workforce development, and while we encourage all employees to take advantage of the mentoring programs in their agencies, you don’t need a formal program to be a mentor or to find one. Mentoring someone can be as simple as getting a cup of coffee with a colleague. And finding a mentor can be as simple as approaching a co-worker you respect and admire and asking for some advice.
As National Mentoring Month comes to a close, let’s endeavor to develop and nurture mentoring relationships throughout the year. By doing so, we will enrich our careers and we will be to provide even better service to the American people.
Each February, our nation pauses to recognize the countless contributions African Americans have made throughout our history. They have helped shape the fabric of our society, our culture, and our growth as a country.
One hundred years ago, Carter G. Woodson, a son of former slaves, created the Association for the Study of African-American Life & History. The association celebrated the first “Negro History Week” in February 1926. Fifty years later, in 1976, February officially became African American History Month when President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Each year, the association chooses a theme for the month and this year it is: A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture.
In the past century, our country has witnessed so many changes -- from the civil rights movement to the construction this year of the first National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall. African Americans have been instrumental in many of the advancements that have shaped our society and certainly our Federal workforce. Countless African Americans have served the American people, many making significant contributions to government, just as many still do today.
This month, OPM will spotlight African American Federal employees who make a difference every day. They are the history-makers of their time. These dedicated public servants carry on the promise of such trailblazing leaders as former HUD Secretary Patricia Harris, the first African American cabinet member; Jocelyn Elders, the first African American U.S. Surgeon General, and Thurgood Marshall, the first African American to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. As the month goes on, I look forward to sharing stories of the latest generation of talented and committed African American Federal workers.
Even as we celebrate, we all know that we still have work to do. In September 2014, President Obama issued the “My Brothers Keeper” challenge. The initiative helps young people successfully make the journey from childhood through college and into a career. The program is particularly focused on helping young men of color develop the knowledge and skills necessary to unlock their full potential. Many cities, towns, corporations, and organizations have already made a pledge to this call for action and have plans to implement their pledges over the next few years. These partnerships will not only benefit the young men being mentored, but also help the communities and neighborhoods where they live and work become stronger and more economically viable.
America wouldn’t be the nation it is today without the sacrifices and efforts of those who came before us. When we read and hear the stories of the courageous individuals who wanted to see the American dream fully realized, it reminds us that whatever our race or ethnicity, we all benefit from, and should recognize, African American history.
As President Obama says in this year’s presidential proclamation: “Like the countless, quiet heroes who worked and bled far from the public eye, we know that with enough effort, empathy, and perseverance, people who love their country can change it. Together, we can help our Nation live up to its immense promise.”
And I know that as a Federal family, together, we will continue to live up to that promise.
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