On Wednesday, March 10, as part of the Office of Information and Technology's (OIT) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) campaign, OIT celebrated Women’s History Month with its Women in OIT: Cracking the Code to Success virtual panel event. Hosted in collaboration with the Office of Organization Development and Engagement, IT Workforce Development, and IT Strategic Communication, this special Employee Engagement Connection Call brought together female Senior Executive Service leaders, supervisors, and managers for an afternoon of candid conversation and inspiration.
During his opening remarks, Mr. Dominic Cussatt, Acting Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer, issued a challenge to participants: "Get out your megaphone," he said. "Be a champion for getting more women into IT." He went on to comment, "I know we'd all like to increase our numbers here at VA. We are a tech and innovation leader and getting more women into tech leadership should be a priority.”
Ms. Tracie Loving, Director of the Office of Organization Development and Engagement, moderated the event which featured leaders across OIT including: Ms. Susan Perez, Ms. Luwanda Jones, Ms. Lynette Sherrill, Ms. Denise Kitts, Ms. Martha Orr, Ms. Renee Williams, Ed.D, Ms. Sarah Porter, Ms. Renee McDonald, Ms. Wanmei Ou, and Ms. Diane Niemann through a series of poignant, hard-hitting questions. Topics ranged from maintaining a better work/life balance to making your voice heard in a meeting room, and each woman shared her unique experiences and advice.
Ms. Susan Perez, Executive Director for IT Program Integration and OIT Chief of Staff, offered words of wisdom: “Be strong. Keep pushing yourself forward. You know your contribution into that discussion is worth something. You’re worth something and as long as you hold that in your core, nothing can rattle you!”
Ms. Luwanda Jones, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategic Sourcing, followed up with advice she gives to her adult daughter, “Nobody is going to bring you anything. If you want it, you’ve got to go after it. You got to make sure you have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to do it. Even if you don’t have it you can learn it!”
In an industry where women are disproportionately underrepresented, the panel event resonated with many of the 1,007 attendees. Within OIT, specifically, leaders and staff alike recognized a need to facilitate an open, honest dialogue about the challenges, shared and individual experiences, and successes inherent to be a woman in the IT field.
The response to the panel has been overwhelmingly positive. Those who’d felt unheard in their own positions were grateful for the opportunity to connect with women leaders, thanking them for discussing tough subjects and noting, “You all fortified what I believed when I joined the VA.”
Events like these continue to transform the Department of Veterans Affairs into a diverse and inclusive work environment that uplifts every idea, experience, and opinion.
Our commitment to digital and IT transformation is shaped by daily dedication to customer service and the close collaboration of our workforce, managers, and leaders. Ready to join us in improving Veterans’ care? Check out all current information and technology career opportunities on DigitalVA. You can also contact VA’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer at 512-326-6600, Monday thru Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST or by submitting a resume to VACareers@va.gov.