The third annual Leading for Impact, Women in Leadership Conference celebrated the accomplishments of women in Government and industry. Three fireside chat panels featured women executives from various Government agencies speaking to the event’s theme, Building Resiliency to Drive Transformation, Modernization and Success in 2021. Additionally, a Lifetime Achievement Award was accepted by Senator Elizabeth Dole, Chair of the Board, Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
Three Moments of Impact were shared throughout the program. These reflections of a defining event that played a significant role in the individual’s path to becoming the leader she is today were meant to inspire others. Additional Moments of Impact will be featured in the weeks and months ahead.
Pamela J. Powers, Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, opened the event, centering her remarks around the Agency’s mission and resiliency. She talked about teamwork being critical and the ability to be adaptable to and anticipating resistance as key components in the Department’s success in recent years. She also mentioned listening to leadership while empowering and challenging decision makers invested in the mission as drivers of positive change.
Driving IT Modernization and Digital Transformation
The first panel was led by Amy Haseltine, Director, GSA QSMO for Civilian HR Transaction Services & NewPay PMO, who guided conversations with Luwanda Jones, Deputy Chief Information Officer, Office of Strategic Sourcing, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; Clare Martorana, Chief Information Officer, U.S. Office of Personnel Management; and Colonel Jenifer Meno, Deputy Assistant Director for Strategy, Plans and Functional Integration (J-5), Defense Health Agency in a conversation around driving IT Modernization and Digital Transformation.
The women each talked about when they’ve had to pivot unexpectedly and strategies used to be successful during the process. Meno mentioned a career change moving from a field unit to a systems change environment, requiring her to figure out new priorities and tools to communicate. Martorana mentioned the need to pivot designing systems with the user in mind. She spoke of putting patients and users of a process at the beginning, rather than the end.
Looking toward 2021, the panel was asked what would drive IT modernization and digital transformation in mission goals. Jones said that facing and embracing change would be a theme for her in the new year. Meno added that looking at the art of possible, to think outside the box, is where she will focus.
Supporting the Workforce of Today, Leading the Workforce of Tomorrow
Jenni Main, Chief Operating Officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, served as the moderator for the second panel asking questions of Jeneen Iwugo, Deputy Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Nina Ferraro, Senior Advisor to the Chief Procurement Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Katharine Murray, EHR Modernization Brach Deputy Chief, Defense Health Agency.
This panel’s thoughts focused on personal and professional challenges facing the workforce today and what lessons can be learned to make improvements in the future. Recent months have stretched individuals, businesses and Government agencies in new ways. Ferraro commented on the challenge of remaining human in a virtual environment and how employee support looks different in this model.
In looking forward, remaining resilient, being prepared and having courage were themes addressed throughout the discussion. Murray spoke to having courage to get through tough situations while keeping faith in co-workers, leaders, family and humans in general. Iwugo spoke to the need to support others in the workforce through different means and adapting as many continue to work remotely. While the workforce has had to pivot in recent months, lessons learned will improve communication, processes and resiliency moving forward.
Driving Transformation and Modernization in 2021
The final panel was led by Lauren Thompson, PhD., Director, Interoperability, Federal Electronic Health Records Modernization Office, (DoD/VA Interagency Program Office), who oversaw discussion with Venice Goodwine, Chief Information Security Officer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Barbara Morton, Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs; Laurie Park, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service; and Misu Tasnim, Executive Director, US Digital Service.
Focusing on what the next year will bring, this group offered thoughts on what transformation and modernization will look like. Park indicated partnering with GSA to develop core financial systems is a long-term plan encompassing a decade or more. The upcoming year for Tasnim will include focusing on data and interoperability. Goodwine said her agency will continue looking at cloud adoption to determine what elements should be moved to this storage system. Morton will continue to improve the customer experience using Human-Centered Design.
Closing out their discussion, each panelist shared how they thought industry can support agencies to move their missions forward. A common theme was industry understanding the vision of the agency they want to work with and using the show don’t tell thought process when looking to partner with others in industry and Government agencies.
Honoring Senator Dole and Award Winners
Programming wrapped up with the acceptance speech from Senator Elizabeth Dole for her Lifetime Achievement Award. Her remarks prompted numerous comments in the public chat area as she spoke of what it means to be a leader.
Finally, inspirational voiceovers played as this year’s award winners were recognized. Sixty-six women from Government and industry were honored for tackling the most important issues, challenges and opportunities and for creating an impact.
This year’s event also worked to give back. Through the purchase of themed clothing and monetary donations, over $500 was raised to support Girls Who Code. This national non-profit organization works to close the gender gap in technology. Their programs inspire, educate, and provide girls with the computing skills they’ll need to pursue 21st Century opportunities.