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Erbil, Iraq 2006
Once again the veterinary team traveled nearly 7,000 miles to the Middle East in the midst of intense heat and sand storms. In Erbil, Iraq, about 90 veterinarians, 8 of whom were women, gathered with representation from the central governments of Iraq and Kurdistan, veterinary schools and laboratories. The group also included private practice veterinarians from 16 of the 18 provinces/governorates. It was an unprecedented gathering.
“The ‘International Team’ in full was also represented by the U.S. service members assigned to the Iraqi theater of operations and APHIS officials, including Dr. Paula Cowen, and Dr. Linda Logan. In addition, representatives from three U.S. veterinary schools—including Dr. Prema Arasu (North Carolina State University), Dr. Craig Carter (University of Kentucky), and Dr. Salman—were present. Dr. Max Coats, who had recently retired as APHIS Texas Assistant State Veterinarian, also participated. Coats’ primary responsibility had been to track and control brucellosis in Texas. Iraqi veterinarians had identified brucellosis as one of their greatest disease concerns and had targeted it as an important workshop topic.
The purpose of the 2006 workshop was to develop a way to enhance Iraq’s national animal health efforts by integrating government, academic, and private sector veterinary capabilities. The workshop format required participants to brainstorm, collaborate, prioritize, and network with their colleagues from throughout Iraq.
“This was definitely something not encouraged under Saddam Hussein and in fact could have led to death. We were amazed at how enthusiastically they embraced the process,” said Cowen. “The participants told us time and again how much they wanted a better life and to be proud of their profession and its contribution to the recovery of their people. They literally risked their lives to attend this workshop.”
Cowen noted that security of the participants was of highest priority and continues to be. “I would love to share with Inside APHIS readers the photos of the intense debates, the group reports, the voting for setting priorities, and the challenging of authority. But, for security purposes, we promised not to publish any photographs.”
Cowen recalled other observations as well. Though the women veterinarians in attendance were few in number, their contributions were significant. Rather than being deferential, they raised their hands to make comment and ask questions.
“One woman volunteered to be the spokesperson for a group report; another, from southern Iraq, apologized for her group that was dressed in black, but they were in mourning for the loss of family members, a stark reminder that this is a time of war,” Cowen explained.
At one point, another Iraqi woman confided to the team that, “…we women need to stick together and be strong,” said Cowen.
For 4 days, workshop participants set aside giant obstacles such as security, lack of funding, and their geographic and religious differences. Instead, the group focused on the things they could accomplish together, and they found them to be many. On the last day, Iraq’s chief veterinary officer delivered a 5-year vision plan for a National Animal Health Program. The plan identifies numerous concrete steps to be taken.
With the plan and its detailed steps, the participants will make solid progress in building the Iraqi veterinary infrastructure. Cowen noted, “It will be through their relationships and the care they have developed for each other that this progress will happen.”
2006 Senior Leaders Conference Mapping the APHIS Path
By John Scott
In October, APHIS senior leaders met and
addressed the leadership challenges surrounding the development of science-based regulations and policies, the refinement of APHIS’ strategic plan, and the alignment of individual operational plans with the agency’s and USDA’s strategic goals. In all, 50 of the agency’s top leaders gathered, making the conference the largest agency leadership group ever assembled.
In addition to featured speakers Secretary Mike Johanns and Under Secretary Bruce Knight, the conference included a panel discussion led by USDA Chief of Staff Dale Moore, Administrator Ron DeHaven, and agency Chief
Operating Officer Kevin Shea. The conference also hosted presenters from outside USDA ranks.
Dr. Neil Kerwin, interim president of American University and director of the university’s Center for the Study of Rulemaking, spoke about the ongoing key issue facing the agency—the challenging task of developing science-based regulations and policies. Much of the conference’s first day was devoted to this topic.
Senior leaders invested significant time in reviewing APHIS’ many operational plans currently in place for fiscal year 2007. Participants discussed in detail the 38 plans developed by the agency’s programs and work units. In large part, the purpose was to highlight the importance of aligning individual operational plans with the agency’s strategic plan and, in turn, with USDA’s goals and objectives. Guest presenter, Chris Edgelow, president of Sundance Consulting, Inc., conducted group exercises to help sharpen how agency leaders lead and manage change brought about by current and new agency strategic direction and priorities.
The Administrator’s Office and agency leaders were so pleased with the work accomplished at the meeting that another conference is in the works for April 2007. Building upon the recent meeting’s discussions, APHIS leaders will use the April 2007 meeting to continue working on the scheduled revisions to the agency’s strategic plan.
USDA Honor Award
In October 2006, Secretary Johanns announced the winners of USDA’s Honor Awards and hosted the 59th annual ceremony. The Honor Awards are the most prestigious awards presented by USDA, and APHIS was well represented in the ranks of those selected for the awards.
“The Honor Awards recognize truly outstanding service by USDA employees who have achieved great things through their dedication, leadership, and hard work,” said Johanns.
Congratulations to all APHIS recipients listed below!
Enhancing Protection and Safety of the Nation’s Agriculture and Food Supply
Asian Soybean Rust Team: Coanne O’Hern (Group Leader), Matthew Royer, Claude Knighten, Glenn Fowler, Anwar Rizvi, Arnie Tschanz, Laurene Levey, Mary Palm, Osama El-Lissy, Russ
Foreign Agricultural Service Avian Influenza
International Response Team: Eric Hoffman. Tracy Duvernoy, Dan Sheesley, Clifford Graham, John Hurley, Glenn Germaine, Ned Cardenas, Linda Logan, Peter Fernandez, Cheryl French, John Shaw, Lorrie Brundige, Gordon Cleveland, Joseph Annelli, Jennifer Grannis, Cheryl Hall
Protecting and Enhancing the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment
OIG Animal Welfare Act Investigation and Prosecution Team: Robert Gibbens
Supporting the President’s Management Agenda and Civil Rights
USDA Human Capital Team: Terry Zietlow
Employee Recognition and Remembrance Awards
The following APHIS employees were recognized for significant contribution to the recovery and relief efforts in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Patricia Beetham, Steven Bennett, Randall Choate, Walter Cotton, Anthony Gruehl, Audrey Ingram, Dwight LeBlanc, Catherine Preston, Emily Pullins.
Civil Rights Award
By Gary Roush
On October 26, 2006, APHIS employees gathered in Riverdale to celebrate the achievements of those receiving the 2006 Administrator’s Civil Rights Award. Founded 8 years ago, the award program highlights staff efforts that advance the cause of civil rights and equal employment opportunity and ensure the delivery of APHIS programs and services in an equitable manner.
Administrator Dr. Ron DeHaven was joined by Deputy Under Secretary Chuck Lambert in recognizing honorees in the following three categories: supervisor/manager, individual employee, and group effort. Honorees were chosen by a selection committee from nominations submitted throughout the agency.
Supervisor/Manager Category Awards
In the supervisor/manager category, three individuals were recognized for their noteworthy efforts. Ms. Susan Jojola, a biologist with the National Wildlife Research Center, was honored for her mentoring of a Native American high school student. Jojola, a member of the Isleta Pueblo Tribe, is also involved in ongoing outreach work with other young Native Americans to encourage them to consider internships and careers in the government. In addition, she serves as a tribal liaison for the APHIS Native American Working Group to facilitate joint efforts and information exchanges with Native American Tribes and groups.
Dr. Michael Firko, Director of Permits, Registrations, Imports, and Manuals (PRIM) for Plant Health Programs, was honored for his commitment and active efforts in support of equal employment opportunity and a truly diversified staff. PRIM employs 50 minority employees in a variety of grades, including 7 individuals hired under the Disabilities Program. Firko also actively supports four of his employees who participate as Special Emphasis Program Managers for Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) programs, and he has created internship opportunities for minority youths in the Washington, D.C. area.
As Director of Veterinary Services’ (VS) Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB), Dr. Rick Hill was honored for his strong support of the NVSL/CVB Equal Opportunity/Civil Rights Committee. Hill has encouraged the committee to attend and participate in special trainings, conferences, and special emphasis presentations. With the backing of Hill and the managers at Ames, the group has focused on recruitment of underrepresented populations at the annual Iowa Diversity Conference and at career fairs across the country.
Employee Category Awards
In the individual employee category, three individuals were recognized for their outstanding individual achievements. Dr. Terry Clark, Native American Program Coordinator for VS’ National Center for Animal Health Programs, has worked diligently to expand awareness of and interest in APHIS animal health programs among Tribal Nations, many of which historically have been hesitant to involve the U.S. Government in Tribal affairs. As a result of Clark’s work, 20 Tribes directly entered into agreements with APHIS for funding chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance, and one Tribal organization entered into a combined agreement to provide CWD sample collection and training to more than 20 additional Tribes. In addition, 16 Tribes entered into agreements to accept funding for National Animal Identification Program efforts, of which 2 were combined agreements to provide training, funding, and premises registration efforts for an additional 49 tribes.
Ms. Virginia Green, a budget analyst with Wildlife Services in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, was honored for her efforts in promoting cultural awareness and in the recruitment of minority candidates. Green contacted numerous 1890 Land-grant universities in an effort to reach recent graduates who might be eligible for wildlife technician and wildlife biologist positions. Green has also been Wildlife Service’s Federal Women’s Program Manager since 1994. In addition, she actively promotes awareness of Black history and distributes information about various special emphasis months.
Ms. Estela Diaz, Marketing and Regulatory Programs’ (MRP) Small Business Coordinator, was honored for supporting the agency’s civil rights efforts through her work with small business programs and the Javits Wagner O’Day program (JWOD), which provides employment opportunities in the manufacture and delivery of products and services to the Federal Government to people who are blind or have other severe disabilities. Diaz helps businesses classified as small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, and service disabled veteran-owned to receive their equitable share of MRP contracts.
Group Category Awards
Four groups of APHIS employees were honored for their achievements in furthering equal employment. In August 2005, VS’ National
Animal Health Policy and Programs established an Equal Employment Opportunity/Civil Rights Advisory Committee, which in a short time drafted a charter and work plans. In addition, the committee has distributed employment opportunity information at targeted job fairs, cultural events, and conferences, and developed brochures promoting
Special Emphasis programs. The group also initiated a successful Multicultural Day, and representatives attend meetings with the VS Native American Working Group. Committee members honored were: Chris Bembenek, JoAnn Bentz-Blanco, Nathan Birnbaum, Cathy Chisley, Candy Clanton, Timothy Cordes, Cynthia Hough-Fauntleroy, Jill Rolland, Betsy Sillers, Debbie Sweitzer, and Athena Walters.
The second group award recognized the work of PPQ’s National Civil Rights Strategic Plan Working Group, which developed a three-part civil rights strategic plan. The plan’s main goals are: to create a PPQ workforce by 2009 that, at all levels, utilizes and reflects the diverse demographics of the general population; to develop strategies that result in a 20 percent reduction in certain categories of complaints; and to strengthen the role of special emphasis program managers in creating a diverse work force. The working group members honored for their group effort were:
Jane Berkow, Thomas Chanelli, Sharon Church, Gabriel DeLaGarza, Phillip Garcia, Carolyn Gethers, Christina Jewett, Larry Law, Ruth Lewis, Michael Lidsky, Kristen Luurs, Nancy Matthews, Feridoon Mehdizadegan, Robert Miller, Francis Murphy, Kiesett Newton, Michon Oubichon, John Payne, Mike Randall, Metwaly Sheta, Lillian Stewart, Nan Story, Pandy Tomko, Donna West, and Leeda Wood.
The third group award was presented to the VS Live Bird Marketing System’s (LBMS) Low Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (LPAI) program, which seeks to unify State LPAI programs and assist States in meeting their goal to prevent and control LPAI in the LBMS. To accomplish these goals, the LBMS-LPIA program recently focused significant education and outreach efforts toward minority populations that have not traditionally participated in VS programs. These include: the Amish and the Hmong communities, as well as those practicing Kosher, Halal, and Santeria methods of animal slaughter. To provide all of its customers with full access to LBMS services and materials, the program has worked to develop an awareness of the unique practices and needs of each of these groups and has developed popular educational materials in multiple languages. The awardees were: Molly Ault, Teressa Chase, George Chambless, Madelaine Fletcher, Fidelis Hegngi, Kristie Ludwig, Therese Mindemann, Patrice Klein, Michael Kornreich, Shannon Kozlowicz, Barbara Porter-Spalding, JoAnna Quinn, and Chrislyn Wood.
The fourth group award honored the work of VS’ Pennsylvania Area Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities and Civil Rights, which was reactivated only a year ago and for the most part by new employees. The committee revived and completed efforts to draft an EEO/CR charter and action plan, planned an upcoming Multicultural Day, and has participated in minority recruitment activities at church events, colleges, and agricultural fairs. Committee members are now certified recruiters and focus on retention
efforts, revising position descriptions, and outreach to minority populations. The committee members honored were: Murray Glickman, Bridget Griggs, Kristie Ludwig, Daisy Marrero, Kendra Stauffer, Chrislyn Wood, and David Zellner.
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