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Volunteers Help Boost EEO Ranks at NPS
U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya

Volunteers Help Boost EEO Ranks at NPS

By Javier Chagoya

An all-volunteer group of Navy and DOD employees stepped up to make a difference in Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), taking the Basic Interactive EEO Counselor Course in Herrmann Hall, Feb. 12-15. Eight volunteers attended the four-day, intensive program which leads to a collateral duty as a certified EEO case handler.

NPS EEO Manager Brenda Fleming sought out to reinvigorate this important program here on campus, leading the charge to bring the course to NPS. New NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau was on hand for the first session to welcome the group, and to express her appreciation for their willingness to step forward.

“I will tell you that EEO work is very important. We cannot talk about mutual respect if we do not have a voice,” said Rondeau. “In EEO, people may talk about grievances and complaints, but fundamentally what we’re talking about are people and communication.

“I understand from your agenda for today that you’re learning about interviewing skills, and how to ask the right questions ... It’s important to do that,” she continued. “Because of you, NPS will be healthier and stronger because the EEO program will be stronger.”

The EEO workshop participants are provided 32 hours of study for the volunteer certification as EEO counselors. They are also required to take a one-day review of material annually. The eight volunteers came from as far away as Newport, R.I., and as close as the Defense Resource Management Institute, and of course, NPS.

Management and Program Analyst Jaye Panza, a DON employee for 34 years, has a good reason to volunteer her time for the position as she introduced herself to her colleagues prior to the course’s kick-off.

“Everybody has a voice,” said Panza. “I really think that we as employees can work towards a more harmonious workplace at NPS when we can communicate freely in all aspects of the work we do. This can only help us focus on NPS’ mission to educate the greatest military force in the world.”

NPS Provost Steve Lerman was also on hand, and offered his own expression of thanks to the volunteers for the roles they will play on campus.

“First, I want to thank all of you for signing up to take the EEO course. Our ability to run a fair and forward-looking organization where everyone feels welcomed, depends in no small measure, on having recourse for those who believe we have not achieved that objective. And the more people we can train to be able to engage in the work of informal mediation, the better we’ll be as an organization,” he said.


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