Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) headquarters recently celebrated Black History Month with a special video presentation by members of the NAVFAC workforce and two guest speakers.
The program, hosted by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in its Oprah Winfrey Theater, centered on the theme, “Excellence within the Navy."
Elaine Mensah, founder and CEO, Showroom Etc., delivered opening remarks to the crowd of more than 70 members of NAVFAC, to include the Commander, NAVFAC, Rear Adm Dean VanderLey, and Executive Director, Jennifer LaTorre.
Following Mensah’s welcome, the audience received remarks from Calandra Dixon Lane, the Defense Department director, Financial Improvement and Audit Remediation. Lane, a member of the Senior Executive Service, shared her professional journey to the senior levels of Navy civilian leadership, and her personal definition of excellence.
“Excellence is defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. I, personally, believe that we all embody a natural element of excellence, “said Lane. “It is up to us how we nurture and develop it.” She concluded her remarks with a challenge to the audience to question themselves on what their legacy of excellence would be.
Lane’s remarks were followed by a short video presentation featuring several civilian and military NAVFAC members sharing their testimonials on excellence. The cast of 14 NAVFAC members ranged from a commanding officer to a civilian employee who was reporting to NAVFAC for her first day of employment.
Michelle Gardner–Ince, director, Women-Owned Small Business Initiative, Office of Small Business, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, delivered the keynote address. Known as “G-I,” Gardner-Ince, a retired Air Force colonel, emphasized the importance of the unique skills and experience that military veterans bring to the marketplace.
“The diversity of thought that military members bring to an organization is invaluable,” said Gardner-Ince, “particularly in areas like leadership, strategy, and problem-solving.”
Gardner-Ince also shared her story of growing up as the child of an Army veteran, and how that experience has helped shape her perspective on the diversity of excellence within the military.
VanderLey delivered closing remarks in which he thanked the audience for their attendance, the program’s organizers for their efforts, and reminded the audience that this year’s Black History Month theme, “Inspiring Change,” epitomized the contributions of African Americans to challenging racial inequities and promoting opportunities for equal advancement.
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