Karen Dunn Kelley – Welcome Remarks at First Generation Professional Summit

Karen Dunn Kelley – Welcome Remarks at First Generation Professional Summit


good morning thank you all for being
here today and to Tinisha the director of our office of civil rights here at
the Department of Commerce thank you for spearheading this truly
important initiative four years ago first generation of professionals or FGPS was really just an idea it was a concept and Tinisha you brought it from
concept to execution and every step in between your work and effort is the reason we’re
here today at the first meet at the first summit I’m told over 500 people
registered for today’s event and there was a waiting list of over a hundred
people which is just incredible this should give us a sense though it’s not
just the numbers it’s the it’s the point that it should give us a sense of how
much this topic resonates it’s not only across the federal government it’s here
at commerce it’s in the private sector and it’s much talked about at the
university level today as we prepare the first generation professionals we’re
here today about the most important investment we can make at the federal
level and that is with our in our people my mentor would always say Karen
remember our greatest inventory goes up and down the elevator every day it’s our
people and that is true the first generation professional summit furthers
our government-wide focus on diversity and inclusion and continues a discussion
about the particular importance of the socio-economic diversity as a major
agency with the federal government the Department of Commerce is among the very
first to begin collecting and studying real data around the positive impacts of
the first generation professional and will continue to do this but all the
data in the world will not shed light on what we already know first-generation
professionals are Trailblazers they are the first in their immediate families to
enter the professional work environment each of them come with their own
backgrounds life experience and skills FGPS offer unique perspectives to every
work environment and here at commerce we see they’re impacting
contribution as one of our real great assets Catalina Martinez a
regional program manager at NOAA’s office of ocean exploration and research
said FGPS have a superpower that allows them to turn obstacles into
detours I love that line super powers I can’t agree more
it turns adversity into opportunity and later this morning you’re going to hear
from the Treasurer of the United States Jovita Carranza she has super powers
super powers that took her from a job as a part-time box handler working the
night shift at UPS to a senior executive at UPS and very and now a very senior
and influential official in the US government my hope for today is that we
leave here with better clarity about how we can best leverage the super powers of
FGPS while continuing to mentor and develop the next generation of them I am
NOT an FGP but I am the proud product of one my dear sweet mother Ella Marie she
was the first college graduate in her entire family and in fact on the way to
graduation one of her relatives thought the BA didn’t stand for Bachelor of Arts
but was getting she was getting a bridge award upon graduation she became a
teacher at PS 102 in Brooklyn New York she then also taught taught at Camp
Lejeune where my father was stationed he is a proud was a proud marine and also
an FGP later she became an entrepreneur she started a very successful interior
decorating business she was a terrible agent when she was young she became one
of the very first female lifeguards in the city of New York in fact
she was a lifeguard in the 40s and 50s and the city law did not change allowing
female lifeguards until 1969 for my mother I learned anything and everything
is possible and to that end as a mother myself I have pushed my children to
accomplish more than I have to this day her example reminds us and reminds me of
the value and importance the FGPS bring to our lives every single day
congratulations to each and every one of you for being part of that incredibly
elite group of people and could I just ask at this moment for all the FGPS
to stand up congratulations again you are truly a
unique and accomplished group I also have been had the privilege to be
surrounded by incredible FGPS here at my professional life and commerce for
example Dave Ziya who I have known since I got here about the second or third
week I didn’t know this he want well I did know this I did not know he was in
FGP he runs and leads a critical mission as the chief administrative officer at
the Census Bureau as we prepare for the 2020 census another commerce FGP is Ko Barrett Ko serves as the deputy assistant administrator for research at
NOAA and in addition to her bachelor’s degree
she has also earned an honorary Doctor in science yet another FGP in the ranks
of senior management his senior management analyst seventh Stephanie
Mendez who was encouraged by retired gunnery sergeant Donald Prescott to
pursue and achieve more Stephanie took that advice to heart and has acted on it
and then and one more the TC 2100 group director Seema Rao who was inspired by her fourth grade teacher to complete her Bachelor degree and to become an
engineer that is truly a statement that mentorship and development is critical
and important to the next generation these critical members of our department
and all of our FGPS here today you are inspirations to the next generation
of FGPS and to all of us I am very very proud to be part of today’s event
and I pledge to you that I will sustain it and elevate this initiative moving
forward I look forward to next year’s event professionals and business
services are one of the fastest growing employment categories in our economy
adding 37,000 jobs last month and 380,000 this year alone
there are millions of opportunities for Americans to move into the workforce
leadership comes from every aspect of our society we must also devote
ourselves to finding new ways to harness this unique skills those superpowers
that come from our individual backgrounds in closing let me share a
quick story with you every week I lead a management check in with our
departments senior management at the table is the deputy assistant secretary
for administration the budget director the senior procurement executive the
deputy general counsel and our chief information officer to name a few
I was mentioning and I mentioned yesterday at any meeting I had this
event and the importance of this event but before I could even finish talking
about it a hand went up and said I’m one of those and then somebody else said I
am too and all of a sudden we went around this table everybody’s sharing
their stories and before you knew it everybody at the table was either at FGP
or was a second generation or knew somebody and we were sharing the stories
that’s just how infectious this group is and how important it is this story from
yesterday also reminds us that first generation professionals are not alone
you don’t know where you’ll find them they’re your supervisor they’re your
colleague they’re your staffer and for me in particular they include the lady
who keeps the Department of this deputy secretary running and me organized
Nellie thank you very much for all your service we should take great pride in
where we come from and we ought to use the lessons we have learned in our
career to help others over the next days I ask each of you to share your personal
stories and to be an inspiration so that the next generation can see where we
come from reach out to the next generation of professionals and students
be mentors and help them understand how important their skills are and
what an asset they are to us in conclusion thank you again Tinisha to
your team to the Department of Commerce’s Office of Civil Rights for
your leadership your work will truly strengthen not only our department the
entire federal workforce and the American people thank you and have a
great day

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